The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt an ambitious plan to divert thousands of the county’s youth away from the juvenile and criminal justice systems, connecting them instead to a comprehensive array of supportive services.
In today’s world, having access to your vital records (birth certificate, Social Security card, state ID card) is, in fact, vital. The consequences system-involved youth experience by not having these essential records include potential housing instability, the inability to pursue certain educational opportunities and financial aid, and lack of access to public benefits. Not having identification can also be a barrier to employment. This is the situation Bruce Morgan, Juvenile Law Center’s youth advocate alum, faced.
Amid the charts and tables of this year’s Kids Count Data Book is a stark warning.
The gains in children’s health, education and overall well-being since the last recession may be in jeopardy as “a huge failure of public and political will” saps support for policies that have helped produce those results, the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation states in its annual compilation of child-welfare statistics.
The 2016 Kids Count Data Book findings point to a need for lawmakers to pay close attention to the needs of children and families — and to make clear their plans for policy improvements, said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
I firmly believe that resilience is not just something you’re born with — it’s something that can be taught to both children and adults. This breakthrough idea comes after years of working directly with students, but current research backs me up.
Careful data analysis might be able to keep youth out of the juvenile justice system, a pilot study shows. Officials in Los Angeles County used a screening assessment developed by the National Council on Crime & Delinquency to identify young people in the child welfare system and direct them into prevention services.
James Milan entered foster care at age 4. “My childhood wasn’t the greatest,” he says wryly. “I was trying to figure out why my mother didn’t want me, why my father wasn’t there.” In and out of foster care homes and group homes, he found the Claremont Neighborhood Center in the Bronx, N.Y., — and now works as a senior counselor there with kids ages 5 through 13.
Each year, more than half a million children come into contact with the foster care system in the United States. Of those, 80 percent suffer from severe emotional problems, according to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Less than 50 percent receive their high school diploma, and far fewer go into any type of post-secondary education. Those are some of the statistics, but what’s it’s like to walk in their shoes? What’s it like to face the tough challenges and choices these young men and women deal with on a daily basis?