Top Headlines 11/17

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Child Welfare

Daniel Heimpel, a former child welfare reporter who now runs the nonprofit Fostering Media Connections, rips the L.A. Times for what he believes to be “reckless coverage of child deaths.”

Rita King Bradley, a Belleville, Mich. mother whose son James was removed from her care in 2007, has filed a civil suit against the nonprofit provider that placed her son in the foster home in which he was beaten to death. Bradley is also suing several case workers involved in her son’s case, and the foster parents, reports Tresa Baldas of the Detroit Free Press.

There is serious tension between the union for Washington’s child welfare workers and the state’s child welfare agency over the move toward privatization, reports the Spokesman-Review’s Kevin Graman. The union believes that the Department of Social and Health Services is skipping past a pilot project that would evaluate privatization strategy before a larger move down that road.

Education/Jobs

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick wants to provide free community college education for two years, according to this story by Jack Spillane in South Coast Today. Though this is not a new idea for Gov. Patrick – he’s mentioned it as a goal before – and there is nothing in this article to indicate he is any closer to making such a reform, still worth noting.

While highly qualified minority students are more likely than ever to gain acceptance to top universities, higher admissions standards around SAT scores and extracurricular activities is keeping the majority of minority students from having a chance, according to this report out of the University of Michigan.

Al Sharpton weighs in on teen unemployment, framing this column in the Washington Informer as a "Notice to the GOP" to prioritize youth workforce investment.

Juvenile Justice

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging Michigan’s practice of sentencing juvenile homicide convicts to life without parole, reports David Ashenfelter of the Detroit Free Press. This is likely one of several cases in which LWOP sentences for juveniles convicted of homicide will be challenged following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Graham v. Florida.

Marion County, Fla. will now detain its juveniles in a separate pod of its adult jail, reports Fred Hiers of Ocala.com. The county could not afford to keep paying the state to detain them, and it is likely that other counties in Florida are considering similar moves.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing a Mississippi juvenile facility, alleging some horrific conditions on confinement that include abuse related to sex, drugs and violence.

The Luzerne County juvenile defender unit is up and running, reports the Times-Leader’s Terrie Morgan-Besecker.

An editorial in Tennessee’s Leaf Chronicle says the feds are essentially blackmailing the states into complying with the Adam Walsh Act, but Tennessee should “put it on the books” for 2011.