Juvenile Law Center Participates in National Convening on School-Justice Partnerships
Earlier this month, Juvenile Law Center staff participated in what former New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye deemed a "landmark event"--a national convening on keeping youth in school and out of courts. The convening, called by Judge Kaye and the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, brought together teams of educators and key judicial players from 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to discuss cutting-edge research on the school-to-prison pipeline and ways to reduce referrals to court at a time when youth—particularly black youth—are getting kicked out of schools in staggering numbers for often minor infractions. In Chicago, Illinois, for example, after the implementation of zero tolerance in 1995, the number of expulsions rose from 81 to 1,000 in just three years.
Juvenile Law Center was one of 15 partners who assisted in planning this event. Supervising Attorney Jessica Feierman and Executive Director Robert Schwartz presented and moderated a number of sessions at the conference, including a plenary presentation on legislative approaches to keeping youth in school and out of the justice system. Juvenile Law Center's article Stemming the Tide: Promising Legislation to Reduce School Referrals to the Courts, co-written with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Education Law Center-PA, has been published in the book produced by Judge Kaye and the conference organizers.Read Less >
Youth Fostering Change Develops New Approach to Improve Life in Foster Care and Group Homes
Youth Fostering Change, Juvenile Law Center's youth engagement program that includes youth currently or formerly involved in the child welfare system, has selected an advocacy project for its 2011-2012 campaign: The development and implementation of a "Teen Success Agreement" to facilitate better communication, collaboration, and goal-setting among older foster youth, foster parents, and social workers.
The agreement—which would be developed and regularly reviewed by the youth, foster parent, and social worker—requires that they work together to outline age-appropriate responsibilities, rewards, consequences, activities, and life skills for the youth. The agreement also outlines caregivers' responsibilities to support the youth and help the youth achieve his or her goals.
The Teen Success Agreement is modeled after Florida's "Teen Normalcy Plan," mandated by the Florida state legislature, which outlines age-appropriate activities and responsibilities for youth ages 13-17 in licensed care and must be reviewed and updated every 90 days.Read Less >
Juvenile Justice Reform Podcast Series To Cover Mental Health and Juvenile Justice System Collaboration
Our five-part podcast series "Changing the System," which examines the work of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Models for Change juvenile justice reform initiative, will continue in April with Part 3 of the series, focusing on mental health and juvenile justice system collaboration.
Guests will include Joe Cocozza, Director of the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice; Keith Snyder, Deputy Director of Juvenile Court Judges' Commission and chair of the Models for Change-PA Mental Health/Juvenile Justice State Team; and Gina Vincent, Co-Director of the National Youth Screening & Assessment Project at the University of Massachusetts. The guests provide insights on the challenges facing system-involved youth with mental health needs, the need for structured and objective decision-making, and Models for Change pilot projects that have helped keep youth with mental health needs out of the system.Read Less >
Stacy's Story: Why Implementing the Fostering Connections Act is Important
Stacy is a 25-year-old former foster youth from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The following is an excerpt from her story about being in foster care beyond age 18 and the financial challenge her foster family faced when seeking to adopt her.
"I entered the foster care system at the age of 16 due to neglect and abuse by both of my parents. My foster home was more than a placement to me; it was my home and my family. My foster parents loved me and took me in when I needed a home. To give me what I needed and a future, we needed help and support. They wanted to adopt me and make our family official, but without the support I was getting as a foster child, we were forced to choose between being a real family or being financially penalized. If adopted, I would lose the small amount of financial support I was receiving. No matter what choice we made, I lost."
Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed state budget includes the full implementation of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act ("Fostering Connections"). These reforms will help youth like Stacy by providing federal funding support so Pennsylvania can:
- Extend adoption and guardianship subsidies until age 21.
- Expand eligibility criteria for youth who can remain in foster care until age 21.
- Allow youth to re-enter foster care between ages 18 and 21.
These changes will not only improve outcomes for older foster youth, they will generate state and county savings and yield millions in new federal revenue. If you are interested in supporting reforms that will help older youth in foster care, click here to join the Fostering Connections campaign to support the governor's proposal to improve the lives of older youth in foster care.Read Less >