Top Headlines 8/2

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Child Welfare

Cuts to the federal Mentoring Children of Prisoners program forced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to end a three-year mentoring program in Oklahoma after just one year of operation, reports Carrie Coppernoll of The Oklahoman. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, which operates the program, is scrambling to raise private money to keep it going.

Manya Brachear of the Chicago Tribune profiles Illinois foster parent Pat Schlesser, who defends the position of Catholic Charities agencies that do not want to license couples joined in civil union. Schlesser also tells Brachear that she will not stop serving as a foster parent if the state and Catholic Charities go their separate ways on child welfare services.

Brachear also reports today on inclusion of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois in the lawsuit between Catholic Charities agencies and the state Department of Child and Family Services. The agencies want to be able to refer civilly joined couples to other providers and the state wants to end the child welfare relationship between it and Catholic Charities; the ACLU represents all children in DCFS, per the conditions of a decades-old federal consent decree.

Increases in disputes over custody and child support are the main reason why there were 2.5 million more cases before the Sandusky County Juvenile Court in 2010 than there were in 2008, Judge Brad Smith tells Mark Tower of the News Messenger.

Education/Jobs

Claudio Sanchez of NPR reports on why dropout data, which sometimes does not count youth who enroll in GED programs, can be unreliable.

Juvenile Justice

A free feature story by Jacob Sullum of Reason.com arguing that sex offender registries, particularly ones that include juveniles, are a triumph of outrage over reason.

In Beach Park, Ill. And some surrounding areas, reports Tina Johansson of the News Sun, the system is saving time and money by relying on a teen court to dispense of justice for low-level crimes committed by juveniles.

Jennifer Maehr, medical director for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, argues in a brief letter to the Washington Post that states should be able to bill Medicaid for services provided to offenders in juvenile facilities.

“Because of the inmate exception, these teens often lose their Medicaid coverage,” Maehr writes. “One result is that states pay more for their care.”

In Florida, reports Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald, a grand jury has been convened to examine the death of Eric Perez, the teenager who died in a state facility house after he sought medical care for a severe headache and vomiting.