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Child Welfare

Nobody can point to a specific reason that juvenile and child welfare caseloads are plummeting in Massachusetts, reports the Boston Globe’s Peter Schworm, but everyone seems confident it’s because the state’s approach to youth and family services has improved.

On a sad note for Massachusetts, child welfare innovator Pamela Whitney died of leukemia at the age of 57. The Globe’s Maggie Cassidy reports on Whitney’s immense contributions when it came to involving communities in cases of domestic violence and child neglect.

We mentioned yesterday that Rhode Island called in its private providers for a meeting about how to fill the gaps when three emergency shelters close in January. Today, Providence Journal reporter Lynn Arditi wrote that the providers are miffed by the rush the Department of Children, Youth and Families has created.

Court monitor reports are expected soon in the child welfare lawsuits settled by Children’s Rights in Michigan and Mississippi. In Mississippi, reports Molly Parker of the Clarion Ledger, the Department of Human Services is livid that the nonprofit litigator filed for contempt of court before the report was released.

Education/Jobs

 The fact that community college enrollment numbers are on the rise is well known, but Community College Week’s Paul Bradley examines what the nation’s community colleges are doing to ensure completion.

The Washington Post’s Nick Anderson breaks down the latest international test score data from the Program for International Student Assessment, which has U.S. students ranked 17th in reading, 31st in math and 23rd in science, likely to add fuel to the Obama administration’s emphasis on investing in education to compete globally.

A well-known New York City charter school is on a list of underperforming schools – mostly public schools – the city’s education department plans to shut down. As the Wall Street Journal’s Barbara Martinez reports, the school’s founder plans to fight the decision.

And to those wondering where Michelle Rhee would land following her departure from DC schools superintendent position this fall, she announced this week the launch of a new education lobby shop, StudentsFirst. More from the New York Times’ Trip Gabriel here.

Juvenile Justice

A young man who may be connected to four murders-for-hire in Mexico is American born, and Mexico will try him for the killings in its juvenile court. The 14-year-old is allegedly a hitman for a Mexican drug cartel and goes by the name “El Ponchis.”

A legislative panel voted to extend the life of Arizona’s juvenile justice system by five years, reports Cronkite News Service’s David Rookhuyzen. There are 960 youths in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Corrections, and 384 of them are in secure facilities. If the legislature does not vote to renew the department, all of the facilities (and the juveniles) will be turned over to counties in July.

Everyone agrees that the secure facility for D.C. youth is overcrowded, but not about why, reports the  Washington Post’s Henri Cauvin. The Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services director, Robert Hildum, tells Cauvin that the New Beginnings facility was too small by design; an anonymous source suggests that overcrowding is due to changes that Hildum has made and that it conveniently helps his case to add more beds to the mix.