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Child Welfare

George State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver wrote a long op-ed in yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the state’s use of psychotropic drugs with children in foster care. Oliver has proposed a law that would regulate use of the drugs for kids in state care, and mandate a medical health review of them every six months.

State lawmakers officially entered the fray over child welfare privatization in Nebraska yesterday, reports Omaha World-Herald’s Leslie Reed and Martha Stoddard. The story indicates that a number of different bills could be introduced on child welfare policy and practice.

On the same subject, the PBS program “Need to Know” tonight will include a piece on the use of anti-psychotic medications in America’s foster care systems.

Education/Jobs

New Jersey has enacted the nation's toughest school-based bullying prevention law, according to the New York Times’ Richard Perez-Pena. Not coincidentally passed in the same state where a Rutgers University bullying victim committed suicide and brought much attention to the issue several months ago, the law requires all public schools and some public colleges to appoint a specific person to direct anti-bullying programs, new training for teachers and other measures, all starting next school year.

The Austin American-Statesman’s editorial board objects to a higher-ed proposal the Texas state legislature will consider next week that would require community colleges to compete for funding based on graduation rates and other academic benchmarks; horrible timing considering the enrollment increase at community colleges, this editorial says.

The Baltimore Sun profiles the city’s 2008-established Great Kids Come Back campaign to re-introduce high school to dropouts. As explained by reporter Erica L. Green, this Baltimore City Schools effort involves aggressively knocking on doors of dropouts and enrolling them in mostly alternative schools or programs.

MarketWatch’s Ruth Mantell’s analysis of the latest unemployment figures includes this breakdown of teenagers' unemployment rates by race. Mantell shows that even as teen unemployment numbers have changed over the past decade, the ratio of black unemployed teens to white unemployed teens has remained about the same – at about 2:1.

Juvenile Justice

Governing contributor Feather O’Connor Houstoun, in a late-December column, writes that juvenile justice reform becomes more “politically saleable” during a time of economic crisis.

Sacremento Bee’s David Siders reported this week that Gov. Jerry Brown has elimination of the Division of Juvenile Justice on the table as he proposes governmental realignments aimed at saving money.

Miscellaneous

Families are the new face of homelessness in the Dallas area, reports Kim Horner of the Dallas Morning News.

MENTOR, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Corporation for National and Community Service and Harvard School of Public Health will host the 2011 National Mentoring Summit on Tuesday, January 25, 2011. Click here for details.