Top Headlines 11/29

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Child Welfare

Research indicates that New York City’s policy of charging the parents of chronic truants with educational neglect is not working for the schools or the child welfare system, according to this Associated Press story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. A policy brief, done for the city by the Vera Institute for Justice, asserts that educational neglect investigations sap the time and resources of child protective services agencies in the city, and the practice has not resulted in improved attendance. Half of the 50 states do not consider chronic absence from school to be grounds for a neglect case; two states consider it a neglect finding if the child is less than 12 years old. Read the policy brief here.

California does little to track the number of foster youth who end up homeless, but everyone knows it’s a problem, reports Bethania Palma Markus of the Whittier Daily News. There is some hope that the state’s recent extension of foster care services until the age of 21 will help address the situation.

Stephanie Barry of The Republican covers the first round of court appearances in nonprofit litigator Children’s Rights lawsuits against Massachusetts. The group sued Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and his Department of Health and Human Services in April over the state’s high rates of abuse in foster care and the high number of placements for certain children. The state is asking a federal judge to dismiss the case.

Another New England state in currently in court with Children’s Rights – Rhode Island – announced that it would be closing three of its emergency shelters for children who are removed from their families, reports Lynn Arditi of the Providence Journal. The move will save the system $1 million.

Case workers told Arditi that it could be difficult to find emergency placements in foster homes. However, Children’s Rights action against the state was based in part on alleged overreliance on shelters and group homes.


James Vaznis of the Boston Globe reports on a new Massachusetts tracking system that shows more than a third of the state’s eighth-graders in urban school districts are at risk of dropping out of high school. The state factored in such early warning indicators as standardized test scores, absenteeism and suspensions to determine more than 7,000 students are dropout risks and to call on schools and parents to take action to prevent this from happening.

A Seattle Times editorial applauds the Obama administration’s scrutiny of for-profit colleges and does so by citing a recent report from think tank Education Trust showing 22 percent of students at for-profit colleges’ four-year programs graduate within six years.

Juvenile Justice

Goodwill Industries of Northeastern Pennsylvania is looking to expand its juvenile mentoring program, which it started with a $300,000 grant last year. The project is one of many seeded by Goodwill International with a $19 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

A New York Daily News editorial last week applauded Gov. –elect Andrew Cuomo for slamming the state’s juvenile justice status quo after touring the Tryon facility, which currently has a full staff and zero juveniles in its custody. It is hard to believe the newly elected governor just heard about this; he has been attorney general for three years.

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University will host a multi-system integration certificate program in July. It is a “weeklong program of intensive study for public agency leaders responsible for policy/practice development and implementation in their jurisdictions.” Click here for more information.