Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Councilors push bill to reduce dropouts
Boston.com, Boston MA – May 26, 2011
Two Boston city councilors, frustrated that hundreds of city teenagers quit school each year, launched an effort yesterday to persuade the Legislature to raise the legal dropout age in Boston from 16 to 18. Councilors John Connolly and Tito Jackson said that they believe that 16-year-olds are too young to understand the dire consequences of quitting school and that a roughly century-old state law that allows them to do so is outdated. They point to research that shows that high school dropouts make significantly less money than college graduates and are more likely to depend on welfare or go to jail.

National Solution to Black High School Dropout
Defender Network – May 25, 2011
For the last several years there has been an endless stream of negative reporting about the growing and persistent problems of the terrible rate of high school dropout rates for Black American students across the United States. Of course, it is always important to focus on the most critical problems that beset the quality of life of the African American community. But, to just keep describing and analyzing the “problems” of Black American high school dropouts or pointing the fingers at the internal and external forces or contradictions that plague the African American community will do very little to change this situation.

Urlacher signs on to promote military academy
Daily Harold, Rantoul, IL – May 24, 2011
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher hadn’t heard of Lincoln’s Challenge Academy until recently. But after a whirlwind visit, he’s the military school’s new spokesman. The Illinois National Guard runs Lincoln’s Challenge in Rantoul for high school dropouts from around the state. About 300 students live and go to school at what used to be Chanute Air Force Base.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice, Criminal Justice Reform On Governor Deal’s Radar, Policy Staffers Say
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange – May 25, 2011
Criminal justice reform – including juvenile justice – is among Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s top priorities during his tenure, according to a key member of his policy staff. “As a former juvenile judge this is certainly one of his passions,” said Public Safety Policy Advisor David Werner during the “A Conversation with the Governor’s Policy Staff” event hosted Wednesday by the non-profit Voices for Georgia’s Children.

Juvenile Justice; making “what works” a reality
Prevention Action – May 24, 2011
Politicians want the juvenile justice system to keep the public safe and to deter juveniles from future illegal acts. Scientists want to develop programs that improve the well-being of youth at risk. Therein lies a problem: these two perspectives are not necessarily aligned.

Bill in NY legislature would localize juvenile justice
Times Herald-Record, New York, NY – May 23, 2011
Could a newly introduced bill in the state Assembly spell the end of the state's troubled juvenile justice system? Assemblyman Karim Camara, D-Brooklyn, introduced a bill last week that would give New York City and local counties authority to house their juvenile offenders, instead of in facilities run by the state Office of Children and Family Services. There are two OCFS facilities in our region: the Goshen Secure Center and the Highland Residential Facility.

Number of juveniles incarcerated in Ky. decreases for third consecutive year
The Republic, Owensboro, KY – May 23, 2011
State records show that the number of juveniles being incarcerated in Kentucky has decreased for three consecutive years, according to a newspaper report. A total of 7,100 juveniles were incarcerated in 2010, according to the Messenger-Inquirer, which cited statistics from the state Department of Juvenile Justice and Kentucky Youth Advocates. That's down from 8,883 incarcerations in 2009; 9,834 in 2008; and 11,299 in 2007.

Foster Care

Program aimed at helping foster children
NewsHarold.com, Panama City, FL – May 29, 2011
The Big Bend Community Based Care will launch the “Everybody’s a Teacher” program aimed at encouraging everyone in the community to participate in foster care students’ education. The statewide initiative involves the Big Bend CBC as the lead agency for Community Based Care, the Department of Children and Families, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the Office of Early Learning the Department of Education and several other organizations. “The program will be implemented to hold community meetings to make sure that everyone that touches these children’s lives are teachers,” said Mary Helen Barnes, the community liaison for Big Bend Community Based Care.

Fewer kids in foster care
The Oxford Press, Columbus, OH – May 27, 2011
Ohio leads the nation in the sharpest percentage drop in kids placed in foster care, despite the fact that the state’s investment in child protection ranks lowest in the country, according to a report released Friday. Between 2001 and 2009, Ohio saw a 42 percent drop in the number of children in placed in out-of-home-care and a 46 percent decrease in the number of kids awaiting adoption, according to the latest Fact Book from the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, which represents public child welfare agencies across the state. Butler County Children Services Director Jeff Centers said the drop is not by accident.

Foster Parents Recognized by Area Foster Care Agency
Norristown Patch – May 25, 2011
Concern, a private, Willow-Grove foster care agency, took May’s designation as National Foster Care Month to shine a light on the people who make foster care possible, foster parents. On May 20, Concern held its annual Foster Parent Appreciation Celebration at na’Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse in Horsham. “It affects your whole life in wonderful ways,” said Dee Faller, a Norristown resident who has been a foster parent for seven years.

Teen Pregnancy

Sex ed sometimes awkward, but necessary
The Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, MA – May 29, 2011
The talk. The birds and the bees. It. Whatever you call it -- or don't call it -- sex is a difficult topic to wrap words around, especially if you're an adult trying to talk with a teenager. But a climbing teen birth rate in Berkshire County -- compared with the rest of the state's declining numbers -- is making sexual education in schools and homes a subject that needs attention, according to community leaders who are focusing on that education as a way to tackle the issue of teen pregnancy.
Grant will help Horry County combat teen pregnancy
TheSunNews.com, Myrtle Beach, SC – May 27, 2011
Horry County will reap the benefit of federally funded programs aimed at combating teen pregnancy through the efforts of the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The organization received a federal grant last year of nearly $1.5 million per year for the next five years, which will be spent on targeted programs in Spartanburg and Horry counties, where teen birth rates are higher than state and national averages, said Forrest Alton, the group's CEO. One of the group's first efforts in Horry was to conduct a county survey on the issue, and results showed a community that by and large acknowledges the issue and wants to see it addressed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Mass. can learn much from N.H. in cutting dropouts
The Boston Globe – May 23, 2011
WHEN IT comes to keeping young people in school, Massachusetts can take some inspiration from its neighbor to the north. In 2007, New Hampshire raised the mandatory school age from 16 to 18 as a way to reduce the high school dropout rate. The dropout rate has fallen by nearly half in two years.

Drop out? No driver's license, House says
The State – May 18, 2011
By a 55-54 vote, the S.C. House Wednesday approved a bill -- again -- to revoke the driving rights of high school dropouts. The measure requires the state Department of Motor Vehicles to revoke the learner's permits or driver's licenses of students who drop out of high school. Students who must work to support themselves or their families would be exempt from the requirement.

$1M grant to help youths get GED and job training
San Antonio Express-News, Honolulu, HI – May 18, 2011
The grant from the U.S. Department of Labor is awarding $1 million to the Honolulu Department of Community Services for education and job training. The grant announced Tuesday comes from a program called YouthBuild. The program assists out-of-school youths to obtain their diplomas or GEDS while providing occupational training in the construction industry.

Juvenile Justice

Texas lawmakers in lockstep on juvenile-justice reform efforts
Chron, Austin, TX – May 21, 2011
Every day, lawmakers entering the Texas House face a gantlet of advocates handing out one-page flyers. The flyer touting this year's reorganization of the Texas juvenile justice system, however, carried an endorsement by the strangest of political bedfellows this session: the liberal Texas Appleseed and the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. Their joint endorsement blessed the latest milestone in a five-year transformation of the Texas criminal justice system, perhaps the one area in state government where the left and right have found common ground — in the shared belief that prisons cost too much and accomplish little.

Craig Haney, Scott MacDonald and Phil Wowak: Crisis presents opportunity to improve criminal justice system
Santa Cruz Sentinel – May 21, 2011
The national budget crisis has produced a crisis in the nation's criminal justice system. Shrinking resources have prompted a widespread re-examination of criminal justice practices that have gone unquestioned for decades. State and federal agencies across the country are seeking new ways to safeguard public safety that are more effective and less costly.

Foster Care

Open house set for youth in foster care
WCFCourier.com, Waterloo, IA – May 18, 2011
A graduation open house took place on Friday for students in foster care, and the community was invited. Twelve graduating seniors placed in foster care who are either from or currently living in Black Hawk County was part of the celebration. The students "age out" of foster care when they turn 18, so they will be on their own after graduation.

Heart Gallery Photo Exhibit at Atlantic Terminal to help foster care children
Examiner.com, Brooklyn, NY – May 17, 2011
On Wednesday, May 18th, the Heart Gallery at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal presented the grand opening of a photo exhibit showing photographs of New York City foster care children to help raise awareness toward children in foster care. In honor of National Foster Care Month, the Heart Gallery Photo Exhibit features more than 50 photographs of children seeking adoption from May 18-June 15.

Teen Pregnancy

'Let's CHAT' About Teen Pregnancy‎
San Lorenzo Patch.com – May 22, 2011
Ashland Youth Center and the Hayward Area Recreational District sponsored a free event on Saturday, raising awareness on teen pregnancy. Nearly 100 teens, parents, organizations and members of the community showed up at Jack Holland Sr. Park on Saturday afternoon to learn and raise awareness about teen pregnancy. Funded by Kaiser and offered through the Ashland Youth Center, Let's CHAT is a teen pregnancy awareness project that's been in the works for the past four months.

Children with children: Teen pregnancy numbers declining‎
Richmond Times Dispatch – May 22, 2011
Every year, hundreds of thousands of teenagers in the United States give birth. In 2009, the most recent year for which final data is available, more than 410,000 girls ages 15 to 19 had babies. In Virginia, more than 8,000 teens gave birth in 2009. The promising news is that the rates of teen births and pregnancies are declining.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Many say college too pricey but grads say worth it: survey
Reuters – May 16, 2011
A majority of Americans say college is unaffordable and not worth its skyrocketing price tag, but graduates say the investment pays off, according to a report published on Sunday. College graduates say they are happier and more satisfied with their jobs, with 86 percent saying college was a good investment, according to data analyzed by Pew Research Center. A college degree translates into $20,000 more in earnings per year and remains the goal nearly all parents set for their children, the report said. "The public has a pretty keen awareness that there is a real world dollar and cents dividend that comes with getting a college degree," said Paul Taylor, an executive vice president at Pew and an author of the report.

100-year-old high school dropout to get diploma
Chron, AP Texas News, Texas City, Texas – May 13, 2011
A 100-year-old Texas high school dropout is finally getting her diploma. Thelma Dyess had told the Galveston County Daily News at her 100th birthday party in Texas City that she had always regretted dropping out of school after the eighth grade during the Great Depression to find work. Texas City school Superintendent Bob Brundrett read her comments and decided to do something about it. At his suggestion, the Texas City school board voted this week to award Dyess an honorary high school diploma during the June 3 graduation ceremony. District spokeswoman Melissa Tortorici says Dyess will even don the cap and gown for the occasion.

Lawmakers would link school, driving
USA Today – May 12, 2011
Stay in school or you're grounded. That's the message a growing number of states are trying to send to teenage drivers this year in an attempt to reduce the number of dropouts, despite criticism that the approach isn't effective. Legislators in Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia are working to pass bills or update laws that would snatch driver's licenses out of the hands of dropouts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Lawmakers in Montana and Nevada made similar attempts but failed to get their bills through the legislative process. "It's not the silver bullet to the problem, but it's going to encourage some kids to stay in school," says South Carolina Rep. Thomas Young, a Republican. "We've got to do something about the high school dropout rate." The NCSL reports there are 21 states with laws linking driving privileges and school. Some require only that the applicant to be in school at the time they get their license. Others call for suspending the license of students who either drop out or are chronic truants.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile justice initiative comes to Wyoming
Trib, Wyoming – May 15, 2011
A national juvenile justice reform initiative is coming to Wyoming. Laramie and Sweetwater counties have agreed to participate in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a program developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to reduce reliance on secure detention. Officials in Campbell County decided Friday to also join the program, said Rachel Campbell, who’s coordinating the initiative for the state. The Casey foundation and the Department of Family Services have established a $275,000 annual budget to launch the initiative in Wyoming. While participation in the program is optional, officials hope other counties will take part. “The end goal is to have this as the statewide model for juvenile detention,” Campbell said. Nationally, 140 sites participate in the initiative, which is designed to keep juveniles out of detention unless they pose a high risk to the community. It accomplishes this through eight basic strategies that include developing more alternative programs and creating screening tools that can evaluate a juvenile’s risk level.

Rep. Angela Bryant receives Defenders of Justice Award
Rocky Mount Telegram, Durham, NC – May 14, 2011
The N.C. Justice Center is proud to announce that N.C. Rep. Angela Bryant, R-Nash, has won a prestigious Defenders of Justice Award. The award will be presented Thursday in Durham. Each year, the N.C. Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty. This year is the 13th annual event. “Rep. Angela Bryant has dedicated her legislative career to advocating for some of North Carolina’s most beleaguered communities,” said Melinda Lawrence, executive director of the N.C. Justice Center. Bryant has worked valiantly to improve the state’s systems of civil, criminal and juvenile justice. She is deeply involved in efforts to ensure the safe and successful reintegration of adults and juveniles returning home from incarceration by promoting policies that remove barriers to productive citizenship.

It’s Official: Governor Deal Signs Juvenile ‘Good Behavior Bill’ Into Law
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange – May 11, 2011
Lorena Padron, 18, and Maria Calderon, 19, were all smiles this afternoon as they flanked Governor Nathan Deal in his office. With a stroke of a pen, the governor signed HB 373 into law, giving both of them and thousands of others with a track record of good behavior and academic success in Georgia’s Regional Youth Detention Centers (RYDCs) and Youth Development Centers (YDCs)  a chance to substantially reduce their time in custody. Known as the “Good Behavior bill,” the measure passed in the 2011 legislative session that ended last month also gives juvenile court judges more discretion. “I feel very good, I’m very happy,” said Padron, after the signing ceremony at the state capitol. “I feel like I can begin my life again, like I’ll be able to go home and help my family. Now everybody has hope; an opportunity to show that they can do better.” Calderon agreed with her fellow Macon YDC peer.

Foster Care

Senator Kerry Introduces Bill to Combat Youth Homelessness
The Epoch Times – May 15, 2011
Sen. Kerry introduced a new bill that would help reduce youth homelessness in the United States, last Thursday. “As a father, it’s a punch in the gut to imagine children living on the streets, but this year alone, one in fifty American kids will be homeless,” Sen. Kerry said in a statement. “There are common-sense reforms we can implement to help make things better.” The bill, called the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act allows youth to stay in foster care until they are 21, among other measures. Currently, some 30,000 youth age 16 or older “age out” at 18 or gain “legal emancipation” from foster care programs. Of these, one in four goes on to experience homelessness within four years of exiting foster care. The legislation also provides support for states to work together to decrease barriers that prohibit cooperation across state borders for giving foster children homes in different states.

South central Ky. program keeps 18-year-olds in foster care to finish high school education
The Republic, Bowling Green, KY – May 15, 2011
A program for foster children in south central Kentucky is allowing them to remain in foster care while they complete high school. The program by Court Appointed Special Advocates of South Central Kentucky serves six Kentucky counties. Called Fostering Futures, the program focuses on 16- and 17-year-olds in foster care, and encourages them to remain in the system to complete their education and informs them of their options in higher education and the job market after graduation, The Daily News in Bowling Green reported. The program is similar to ones at 16 CASA branches in urban areas around the country. It can be a challenge to persuade teenagers to remain in foster care past age 18, said Will Constable, executive director for CASA. Many of them want to rejoin their families or try to make it on their own. "They're reaching the point that they think they should have the privilege of making their own decisions and want to exercise that freedom, but they're not always as well-equipped to be independent," Constable said. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 25 percent of foster children experience homelessness within two to four years of exiting foster care.

The Root: Helping Kids After Foster Care Ends
NPR – May 10, 2011
On April 29, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation recognizing May as National Foster Care Month. "For nearly half a million youth in foster care across our country," the president began in the lengthy statement, "the best path to success we can give them is the chance to experience a loving home where they can feel secure and thrive. "That he did it doesn't seem momentous, until you realize that he was renewing federal acknowledgment of the awareness month after similar proclamations had lapsed under President Bill Clinton. The Obama administration told The Root that it's just one small way they're working to help foster-care youth — a renewed focus that includes fresh initiatives to help children move into permanent homes, as well as increased support for those who age out of the system. The policy push may affect in particular African-American children, who, despite accounting for 14 percent of the U.S. child population, make up 30 percent of foster-care youths. According to a 2007 Government Accountability Office report, black children also stay in foster care longer than children of other races.

Teen Pregnancy

YMCA program’s ‘AIM’ to help prevent teen pregnancy in area
Cumberland Times-News, Cumberland, MD – May 15, 2011
Allegany County middle-schoolers who are taking a new 8-week course designed to reduce teenage pregnancy aren’t talking about sex, per se. They’re talking about “possible future selves” and the types of behaviors that can propel them toward success. They’re preparing resumes and business cards and trying to get a sense of what being a grownup is like. “It’s completely different than what we had before,” said Sharon Cihlar, director of the YTeens program at the Cumberland YMCA, which has offered some type of sex education curriculum in area middle schools for more than a decade. Most recently, eighth-graders here were taught abstinence, but funding for that program was lost last year when federal funding for about $170 million worth of abstinence-based programs was eliminated. The new curriculum, called Project AIM (Adult Identity Mentoring), is funded by a $450,000 federal grant that the YMCA received last fall. It’s being piloted this year at Bishop Walsh, Washington and Mount Savage middle schools, and next year plans are to teach it to eighth-graders across the county.

Preventing teenage pregnancy
Herald-Tribune, Manatee County – May 15, 2011
May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month and Healthy Start Manatee, as a proud member of the Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee, is working to help raise awareness of this critical issue locally.  Florida's Healthy Start initiative was implemented in 1992, with the goal of reducing infant mortality, the number of low-birth-weight babies, and to improve the overall health and developmental outcomes of newborns in the state. As Healthy Start Manatee carries out this mandate locally, offering comprehensive care-coordination and case management to approximately 2,500 pregnant women and infants annually, we are all too familiar with the poor outcomes that are often seen among babies born to teen parents. Teens are more likely to receive late or no prenatal care, often because they don't know they are pregnant. Research shows that children born to teen parents are more likely to be born at a low birth weight, face health problems, experience developmental delays, and are twice as likely to be placed in foster care. Manatee County has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state, ranking 11th out of 67 counties and Florida, as well, has a high rate, ranking 12th in the nation.

Teen Pregnancy Conference Aims To Improve Services
Mount Pleasant Patch, Mount Pleasant, WI – May 12, 2011
Representatives of programs in Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant attending Friday event at Wingspread.  No matter your thoughts about teen pregnancy, the county’s high rate of teenage girls giving birth and teen parents is a fact. Carole Johnson, the director of Local and Regional Community Programs for the Johnson Foundation, said the community needs to accept teen parents to help the young parents and their children develop well. That’s the point of Friday’s conference of Racine County Pregnant and Parenting Teens Programs at Wingspread in Wind Point: to bring together the people and the programs in the county that serve pregnant and parenting teens. Part of the conference hopes to erase that knowledge deficit. Each group will present information on their programs and services they offer to pregnant and parenting teens. The second portion of the conference is where the hopes of Johnson, and the other organizers, are pinned, however.

Monday, May 09, 2011

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Cal State San Bernardino project strives for lower dropout rate

Redlands Daily Facts, Redlands, CA – May 7, 2011

During the last 18 months, a group of Cal State San Bernardino students and a professor have spent at least two days a week working with students at Colton High School. The effort known as Participatory Research Advocating For Excellence In Schools, PRAXIS, is all about reducing the high dropout rate in the Inland Empire, according to Louie Rodriguez, the Cal State San Bernardino assistant professor who started it. "This is more than anything a collaborative effort aimed at recognizing and responding to the education crisis facing us," he said. It was soon after he began teaching at Cal State that Rodriguez, a Colton High alumni who went on to graduate from Harvard University, became aware of the high dropout rate.

Go Blue Ridge, North Carolina – May 6, 2011
There’s good news for Watauga Schools as their school year winds down—drop-out rates are at new lows. The school system’s spring newsletter, quotes figures released by the State Board of Education in March showing the dropout rate declined to new lows both locally and statewide in 2009-10. The statewide dropout rate for grades 9-12 declined to 3.75% last year and the rate for Watauga High School fell to 2.74%, well below the state rate. The State Board had previously released good news on graduation rates. The four0year graduation rate rose to 74.2% statewide and to 82.0% at Watauga High School.   

Public broadcasters to tackle school dropout rates

The Wall Street Journal, Washington, DC – May 3, 2011
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and America's Promise Alliance on a new effort to combat the nation's high school dropout rate. Under the American Graduate initiative announced last Tuesday, public broadcasters will expand beyond early childhood education to reach students in middle school. The group says it's a critical time before more than one million students drop out of high school each year. The nonprofit CPB is the primary channel for federal funds directed to local stations. It will initially grant $4.4 million to 20 markets. The Gates Foundation will add $800,000. It will fund teacher town halls, tutoring programs and broadcasts about the dropout issue.

Juvenile Justice

Grant Offers Juvenile Court Drug Training Program

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange – May 8, 2011

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, The U.S. Department of Justice, and the Office of Justice Programs offers the 2011 Best Practices for Juvenile Courts Training Grant. The objective is for  juvenile drug courts to better serve kids who are involved in substance abuse, co-occurring substance abuse, and mental health trauma. This will be accomplished by using the Sixteen Strategies of Effective Juvenile Drug Courts as a framework to help build competency, performance and the capacity of the juvenile drug courts nationwide. The deadline for this is June 6, 2011.

County breaks ground on new Juvenile Justice Center
The Daily Courier, Prescott, AZ – May 8, 2011
Members of the community are invited to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Yavapai County Juvenile Justice Center at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at 1100 Prescott Lakes Parkway, adjacent to the new roundabout on the parkway. The current juvenile court and detention center, which has been at 960 Division St. in Prescott near Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Prescott High School since 1974, will relocate in the summer of 2012 to the new multi-purpose facility designed to provide court and court-related services for children and their families who have cases involving juvenile delinquency, abuse and neglect, and adoptions. "The Juvenile Justice Center will provide better collaboration between all Yavapai County children's service agencies and will provide the infrastructure to implement an educational, pro-social, and rehabilitative setting for all the kids in our care," said Scott Mabery, director of Juvenile Court Service.

Foster Care

The Daily News, Kentucky – May 7, 2011
Program encourages foster kids to remain in the system when they turn 18. When she turned 18, Charlene Long left foster care without a support network to help her adjust to life as an adult, and she struggled with addiction and other problems. A program overseen by Court Appointed Special Advocates of South Central Kentucky is working to ensure a different outcome for Long’s teenage son. The local CASA branch began a Fostering Futures initiative last year, in which local youth remain in foster care past age 18 - when they age out of the system - in order to complete their high school education. Serving six counties, the program focuses on 16- and 17-year-olds in foster care, encouraging them to remain in the system to complete their education and informing them of their options in higher education and the job market after graduation.

Teens who are close to aging out of foster care find homes, hope

The Tennessean, Memphis, Tennessee – April 30, 2011

There was no genetic bond. No family history. In truth, Tevin Smith had met the Clarksville woman only once before. But last May, after years in the foster-care system, the young man from Memphis called Ami Smith and spoke six simple words. Mom, he said, I want to come home. For the better part of Tevin’s life, the state was his caretaker. Caseworkers led him from foster home to foster home. His possessions fit in a single Rubbermaid tub. Each time he relocated, he aged closer to becoming a legal adult but appeared no closer to having a family. “The way I felt, I just wanted to get away from everything and have a parent that I could call mom,” the 17-year-old said. Thousands of Tennessee children face similar situations. Recently the federal government ranked Tennessee first in the country in its ability to establish permanency for children and youth in foster care for 24 or more months, according to information from the state Department of Children’s Services.

Monday, May 02, 2011

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


The Desert Sun – May 2, 2011
Summer school programs have continued to shrink along with state funding, leaving fewer opportunities for students to get ahead or continue learning during the summer. The Coachella Valley's three public school districts are focusing most of their summer programs on high school students who need the extra opportunity to catch up on credits in order to graduate. All summer programs have been slashed from previous years. Palm Springs Unified School District scaled back its summer school this year to 10 days for middle and high school students learning English as a second language.

Ocala News – May 1, 2011
The Marion County School Board wants to partner with a national dropout retrieval company called Alternatives Unlimited to find local high school dropouts and help them get their diplomas. A contract will come back to the School Board at a later date for a vote, although it appears all five members support the concept. The group, founded in 1997 and based in Maryland, will go into the communities and search for dropouts, then help them finish the courses they need to graduate high school. And there’s no cost to the school district. “This is a no-lose situation,” School Board Chairwoman Judi Zanetti said.

Statesman Journal – May 1, 2011
Last year 5,980 Oregon students dropped out of high school. These dropouts are now at a substantially higher risk for life-long difficulties associated with unemployment, poverty and incarceration. This is a problem that affects us all. Our state's economic health, now more than ever, depends on ensuring more high school students graduate prepared for college and careers. According to the Alliance for Excellence in Education, if these Oregon students had graduated, state tax revenues would have likely grown by as much as $4.7 million during an average year. By the time they had reached the midpoint in their careers, their combined spending and investment potential would have been enough to support as many as 500 new Oregon jobs and increase the gross state product by as much as $72 million.

Oregon Live – April 26, 2011
Oregon's high schools graduated just 66 percent of students in the class of 2010 in four years, the state reported Tuesday. That represents almost imperceptible improvement from the previous year, both statewide and in Portland Public Schools, Oregon's largest district. The district's on-time graduation rate was 53.6 percent, up from 53.3. Nearly 11,600 students dropped out statewide, including almost 1,400 -- or one of every 3 students -- in Portland Public Schools.

Juvenile Justice

Southern Maryland Online, Annapolis, MD – April 29, 2011
After at least two years of noncompliance and threats of funding cuts from the U.S. Department of Justice, Maryland appears to be on track for compliance with federal rules meant to protect juveniles from interacting with adult offenders when they're detained in adult facilities. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) requires that juveniles not be detained in facilities that hold adults for more than six hours, or 24 hours in rural areas, while awaiting transfer to a juvenile facility, a court hearing or processing. In 2008, Maryland had a rate of 43.48 juveniles per 100,000 juvenile population of the state held with adults for more than six hours, nearly five times the allowed rate of "9 per 100,000 juvenile population of the state." In 2009, 19.13 juveniles per 100,000 juvenile population of the state were held in adult facilities for more than six hours, totaling 287 violations.

The Texas Tribune – April 28, 2011
Texas youths who get crossways with the law could soon find themselves under the supervision of a new state juvenile justice agency whose main mission is to keep young offenders close to home and quickly headed in a more positive direction. The Texas House on Thursday tentatively approved a bill by state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, that would abolish the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and establish a Texas Juvenile Justice Department that would deal with young offenders. It's a move that the Texas Sunset Commission recommended as a cost-saving measure. But Madden and state Sen. John Whitmire, who worked together on the bill, have said their goal is loftier than saving money. The new agency would continue efforts the state started in 2007 to revamp its approach to juvenile justice.

The Iowa Independent -- April 26, 2011
Without legislative guidance some new juvenile felony offenders will receive life, but be immediately eligible for parole. Iowa lawmakers have been unable to find compromise on new sentencing guidelines for juveniles convicted of certain non-homicide felonies. It’s a situation that will likely result in any new juveniles convicted of such crimes becoming immediately eligible for parole.

Foster Care

Stock Market Review, Mesa, AZ – May 1, 2011
Adoption.com is celebrating National Foster Care Month! Each May, since 1988, National Foster Care Month has raised awareness for millions of Americans across the country. Celebrate with us by supporting your local foster care community. Each May, since 1988, National Foster Care Month has raised awareness for millions of Americans across the country. Originally purposed to recognize and show appreciation to foster parents throughout the nation, National Foster Care Month has transferred that focus towards the needs of the children, specifically the teenagers, aging out of the system. Today, National Foster Care Month continues to broaden awareness, uniting individuals and organizations through strong support and recruitment programs nationwide.

Arizona Daily Star – May 1, 2011
The number of abused and neglected children in state care has nearly doubled in Pima County over the past decade - even as funding to help them has dropped precipitously and the number of foster homes declined. Statewide and locally, it is becoming more difficult to place children removed from their homes with families where they can experience some normalcy. Caseworkers are trying harder to place children with relatives, but it's not a simple solution. Tracking down extended family who might help can be challenging, and resources are scant. Group homes and shelters, meant to offer a temporary reprieve, are becoming long-term housing for many older children, sibling groups and teens.

Newark Advocate, Newark, Ohio – May 1, 2011
Veronica Priest remembers the first advice her caseworker gave her when she became a foster parent. "These kids will come in and out of your life for as long as you do this," she said. "They'll remember that you kept them safe, gave them a warm bed and kept food in their belly." As National Foster Care Month begins, local providers say the need for foster parents is as great as ever. Licking County Job and Family Services currently has 260 to 300 children in its system, and private services bring in more children from surrounding counties. "We had brought those numbers down a few years ago, but they shot back up," said Celeste Nichols, a placement supervisor with LCJFS. "The current economic situation puts strains on the community in so many different ways."

Capitol News Service – April 29, 2011
Only three percent of Florida foster kids graduate from college and legislation being discussed in Tallahassee could lower the success rate even more. Right now kids who age out of the foster care system can receive money to go to college until they are 23. A bill filed by Representative Matt Hudson would lower the age to 21. Christina Spudeas, the Executive Director of Florida’s Children First says the change would leave the kids who are trying to improve their situation with no where to turn.