Top Headlines 2/22

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Child Welfare

Bethania Palma Markus of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports on a cost-neutral program that has shown results in keeping foster youth connected to school systems in some California counties.

If Maine approves the proposed budget currently on the table for 2012, it will cut the number of investigators of abuse in foster homes from five to two, reports Maine Today’s Susan Cover. Each investigator would have about 125 cases to pursue a year if it happens.

The state of Florida is promising a complete review of what led to the death of a 10-year-old girl, who was found dead in the back of her father’s pickup truck, and the injuries to her twin brother, who was doused with a toxic chemical and suffered extensive burns. State records detail years of contact with the twins’ parents, who adopted them after fostering other children. Mike Clary of the Sun-Sentinel updates the ongoing horror story.

Education/Jobs

The high school graduation dilemma in Detroit appears to be improving, although these results are tempered by reports showing many of these graduates are not ready for college. By the Detroit News’ Jennifer Chambers and Mike Wilkinson.

The value of Workforce Investment Act-funded training programs in solving economic crises is explained in this San Bernardino Sun (Calif.) column by Rod Hoover.

The Newark Star-Ledger’s Kelly Heyboer reports on Newark’s plans of a massive public school reform effort, which could include consolidating and closing public schools to make room for 11 charter schools.

Juvenile Justice

The Wyoming legislature is poised to pass a sex offender registration bill that would potentially bring it in line with the federal requirements of the Adam Walsh Act, reports Casper Star-Tribune reporter Joshua Wolfson. The law limits the number of juvenile offenders who would have to register, keeps their information off the public database, and allows them to apply to have their names taken off the registry after 10 years.

Another interesting tidbit at the end of Wolfson’s article: the state would stand to lose $85,000 in federal money if it does not comply with the Walsh Act, but implementing the new law is expected to cost them $144,000.

His conviction marks the end of the criminal action against Mark Ciavarella, and now the disgraced juvenile judge will face the music in civil court, where a class action lawsuit filed by people who faced Ciavarella in juvenile court awaits. The transition from his racketeering trial to the lawsuit was highlighted by a confrontation outside the courtroom on Friday between Ciavarella and the mother of a juvenile he locked up. Reporting by CNN’s Antoinette Campbell.

The federal prosecutors made the decision to keep their case simple for the jury, reports the Republican Herald’s Dave Janoski, and that meant ignoring evidence suggesting that Ciavarella placed juveniles in for-profit detention centers for no other reason than to fill them up.

Many of the families involved in the Luzerne juvenile court scandal were disgusted with the way Ciavarella acted during the trial but were satisfied with the convictions, reported  Standard-Speaker reporter Andrew Staub.