Top Headlines 12/14

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Child Welfare

In a move that surprised nobody, Los Angeles child welfare director Trisha Ploehn was fired by Los Angeles County Chief Executive William Fujioka yesterday. Los Angeles Times reporter Garret Therolf reports that Ploehn will be reassigned to Fujioka’s staff, and Antonia Jimenez will replace her (for now) at the top of the  Department of Children and Family Services.

Child welfare pundit Richard Wexler’s advice for Jimenez and the county: make like Florida and embrace the concept that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Randy Ellis of The Oklahoman reports that the state’s growing backlog of overdue child welfare investigations is largely due to one county, where changes in leadership and a higher-than-normal turnover rate may have played a role. 

Meanwhile, an Oklahoma human services official told local Comcast affiliate NECN that she is worried about the impact of a law that raised the threshold for removing a child from the home. The law was passed because Oklahoma’s rate of removal was twice the national average.

Education/Jobs

One Philadelphia-area community college announced is now able to cut tuition in half for nearby residents thanks to a $3.9 million check from an unusual source: the Harrah's Chester Casino & Racetrack in Chester, Pa. More from Dan Hardy in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In interviews of more than 200 high school students in Tennessee and Washington, one-third said they had never spoken with a college counselor at their high school; most reported relying on parents or guardians for support about college. “The full report, Hear Us Out, is available here. Said one student of the counselors’ office: “Every time I walk in there, all of them are swamped. They’re just covered.”

The dismal completion rates reported at for-profit colleges are about to get even worse, according to one group of investment analysts. Bloomberg’s Sarah Mulholland reports on a Moody’s Investors Service analysis that predicts graduation numbers at for-profit colleges are about to decline because banks and financial companies have reduced loans for students to attend these schools by 50 percent since 2008.

The Urban Institute in Washington will be hosting a discussion forum tomorrow, Wednesday Dec. 15, on youth workforce titled, Getting off to a Good Start? Jobs for Youth. Those not in Washington can sign up to watch a free webcast of the talk. More information here.

Juvenile Justice

KABC in Los Angeles covers a 50-mile march to raise awareness about city youths who are forced out of school for breaking rules, often left to be dealt with by the juvenile justice system.

The Phnom Pehn Post reported today that for the first time in its history, Cambodia is working on a law that would establish a juvenile justice system. Currently, the Post says, there are 800 youth serving time in Cambodian prisons.

Rina Palta of California’s KALW News with a good, short piece on how entrenched prisons are in rural economies.

Miscellaneous

The Washington Post profiles Ernie Allen, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in its “Conversations with Achievers” section.