Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Billings Gazette, Helena, MT – January 12, 2011
A bill before the Education and Cultural Resource Committee would increase the legal dropout rate from 16 to 18.  Proponents, including State Superintendent Denise Juneau, say the change will set a state expectation that all Montana students will graduate, which in today's economy is imperative for a good job and a secure future, proponents say.

2TheAdvocate, Louisiana – January 14, 2011
The state is about to launch a new bid to aid troubled public school students after an earlier program was scrapped, officials said Thursday.  The new effort, called “Connections,” will replace an anti-dropout push called pre-GED/skills options that was launched in 2000 and has 6,600 students now.
The Herald News, Fall River, MA – January 13, 2011
The path to a high school diploma and an associate degree is about to get easier for students on the verge of dropping out of school.  The school department and Bristol Community College have partnered to offer the Gateway to College program, aimed at giving students who have recently or are at risk of dropping out the chance to stay in school.  The national program, which is currently offered in three Massachusetts communities, serves youths 16 to 21 years old, who have dropped out of school or are significantly behind in credits and unlikely to graduate from high school.

Juvenile Justice

Star Gazette, Albany, NY – January 9, 2011
With many of New York's juvenile-justice centers operating at less than 50 percent capacity, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has targeted them for restructuring and possibly closure, but unions, lawmakers and communities are concerned about losing jobs in an already struggling upstate. The facilities are underused, the recidivism rate is too high and the treatment provided has been proven ineffective, Cuomo said in his recent State of the State speech. The average yearly cost per child is $220,000, but some beds cost nearly $350,000 annually, and the recidivism rate is higher than 80 percent.

Taunton Daily Gazette, Taunton, MA – January 11, 2011
Unless it raises $30,000 in the coming weeks, Taunton Youth Court will shut down at the end of the month, its organizers said.  The restorative justice program, which uses positive peer pressure to improve student behavior as an alternative to the juvenile justice system and has strong support in Taunton High School, has lost significant grant funding in the midst of the struggling economy.  “It’s so successful, I don’t understand how anyone who has the ability to make a contribution can’t or won’t do so,” said local attorney Louise Laudebache Glass, who volunteers to sit as a judge at Taunton Youth Court. “It’s turned lives around.”

American-Statesman, Texas – January 12, 2011
In a surprise vote, the state Sunset Advisory Commission decided unanimously Wednesday to do away with the Texas Youth Commission and the Juvenile Probation Commission and merge it into a single agency that would oversee all state corrections programs for youths.  The Legislature rejected a similar proposal two years ago, but supporters of the change acknowledged help from an unlikely new ally: the state's $27 billion budget shortfall.  "A budget crisis can produce excellent opportunities to do very good things that we probably would not have done otherwise," said state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, a leading supporter of the merger.

Foster Care

13 News, Orlando, FL -  January 12, 2011
Jaleeca Dawkins is determined not to become a statistic.  She turned 18 in December, during her senior year of high school.  At first, she celebrated, but reality soon set in -- Jaleeca was on her own.  "The day I turned 18, I got my first rent notice," she said.  Jaleeca was in foster care for nearly five years. After living in an abusive home, then group and foster homes, shelters, and finally transitional housing at 18, she said she finally has a support system helping her grow up.

The Wall Street Journal, New York , NY – January 13, 2011
Robert and Nancy Schulman make no niceties: They reward progress, not need.  The couple this year are giving $250,000 to a number of New York City foster care and domestic violence organizations for two programs aimed at one goal: getting people to become productive members of their communities. More than a decade ago, Ms. Schulman, a psychologist and social worker, began leading support groups for domestic-violence victims. After selling his asset management business in New York in 2000, her husband wanted in on the project. In 2005, the couple founded a charity called Of Home, Family and Future, which gives grants to women and children who were affected by domestic violence.

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