Top Headlines 11/9

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Child Welfare

Washington, D.C. has settled for $10 million with a five-year-old boy who the city placed with an abusive foster mother, reports Henri Cauvin of the Washington Post. Rafael Pearson suffered catastrophic brain damage at the hands of a foster parent, and faces a lifetime of expensive care.

November is National Adoption Month, which is a promotion put on by Adopt U.S. Kids in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Iowa City Press-Citizen’s Emily Schettler highlights one of the many local events connected with the national campaign.

Education/Jobs

A new report based on national math and reading tests shows African American boys are significantly less proficient in reading and math than their white counterparts, and that poverty alone does not explain the difference. The full report from the Council of the Great City Schools will be released to the public today, but the New York Times’ Trip Gabriel produced a breakdown of the report this morning.

The Dream Academy, providing afterschool program for the children of incarcerated parents, opened a site in Baltimore this week. The afterschool learning center will help students in such subjects as math, science, geography and creative writing, serving 3rd through 8th graders. Click here for more on the subject from Baltimore radio station WJZ’s Mary Bubala.

Adding more fuel to the charter school debates comes a story by Catalyst Chicago’s Sarah Karp, which says that 11 percent of Chicago charter school students left during the 2009 school year. Charter advocates would say this proves their schools have high standards while detractors say charters refuse to teach the more difficult children and shove them aside to the already overwhelmed public schools.

Juvenile Justice

Most juveniles who are not detained before facing a judge do not re-offend in the meantime. But for obvious reasons, it’s the ones who do get arrested again who attract attention. NJ.com reporter Alexander Zdan reports on how one county remains wary as New Jersey continues to expand its juvenile detention alternative initiative across the state.

OJP's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) will hold its 2010 National Conference, Advancing Justice through Evidence and Innovation, on Dec. 6-8 in Washington. The conference will emphasize how evidence and innovation can be leveraged to improve the Nation's justice systems and to ensure community safety.

Office of Justice Programs 2009 Annual Report

The Justice Department’s main funder of domestic justice programs released 8,.200 grants totaling more than $5.6 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the report. About half of that ($2.7 billion) was funding from the Recovery Act. The report highlights the department’s investments in, among other ventures, juvenile mentoring and Chicago’s CeaseFire violence prevention program.

Click here to read the report.

Weed and Seed Final Evaluation Report

It is impossible to measure the effect of Weed and Seed initiatives, but areas targeted by the project have seen overall decreases in violent crime and improved perceptions about safety among residents, according to this evaluation, which was done by RTI International and the Justice Research Statistics Association for the Justice Department.

Click here to read the evaluation of Weed and Seed, which funds efforts at law enforcement and community partnerships in areas with severe crime problems.

Miscellaneous

Trey Bundy of San Francisco’s Bay-Citizen did a great job covering California’s desperate attempt to save its state child care program after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger line-item-vetoed it out of existence in mid-October. State legislators are pressing counties to use county-held funds that draw from taxes on tobacco products to keep the program afloat until funding can be restored for next year.

Click here for an op-ed from a child care provider on how the cut looked on the front line of family services. California faces a truly dismal financial picture right now, but it’s hard to imagine how, even in the short term, it makes sense to cut a service that enables parents to work and then spend that money and pay taxes.

Civic Pathways Out of Poverty and Into Opportunity

Three major foundations – Bill and Melinda Gates, W.K. Kellogg and the New World Foundation – commissioned this assessment of the community service and civic engagement field’s potential and capacity to keep youth connected to school. The report depicts a field with strong federal and state foundations that needs some work on decreasing barriers to entry.

Click here to read the report.