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 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.

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