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.

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