Top Headlines 12/28

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Child Welfare

Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, in an op-ed that appeared in The Oklahoman last week, says concerns over a law limiting the state’s ability to remove children from homes are ill-founded. Officials expressed concern that the law might have played a role in two recent deaths of children known to the system.

Wexler suggests that, considering the fact that dozens of children in Oklahoma’s system died before the law was passed, it has more to do with the fact that even with the new law, the state still removes too many children and overburdens its investigators and workers in the process.

Education/Jobs

Elizabeth Melville of Georgia’s Times-Herald reports on an interesting literacy venture that the state will take on in partnership with a local foundation: Each Georgia child in foster care or in the state’s Childcare and Parent Services Program will receive one book each month from birth until the age of five. The partnership is an expansion of a project already being done by the Ferst Foundation.

A 240-page report titled 25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College is summarized in a U.S. News and World Report blog entry. Among the suggestions: encourage more students to enroll at community colleges; overhaul the federal financial aid form; and reform the accreditation process to make it more transparent.

The New York Times' Simone Sebastian profiles a New York after-school program that combines academic tutoring with lessons in performance art. Called the Education Alliance After 3 Arts Program, the school-based program is gaining a reputation for discovering hidden talents.

An Huffington Post column by Bonnie Kavoussi, a Harvard University senior, examines the teen unemployment crisis, and how a generation of teens - particularly low-income teens - is missing an opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

Juvenile Justice

Salt Lake City police want the right to photograph youth who associate with known gangs in the city, reports the Tribune’s Melinda Rogers. Current law in Utah prevents them from taking a picture of anyone under 14 without first obtaining a court order.

Something to consider as Wyoming discusses reform and extension of its juvenile justice system: alcohol is involved in half of the state’s juvenile arrests. Wyoming is the only state that does not currently participate in the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, and many of its juveniles are handled in adult courts and jails.

Miscellaneous

University of Chicago Economist James Heckman, at a mid-December forum, made a presentation that questioned all the attention paid of late to education reform. The accident of birth is the greatest source of inequality,” Heckman told the audience at the McCormick Forum, and the greatest return on investment will come from early childhood programs and helping develop parents.

In a column that appeared yesterday in the Detroit Free Press, Vernice Davis Anthony and Leslie Murphy say business leaders in the state are starting to embrace Heckman’s philosophy.