In Focus: Building the Capacity of Communities
Oct 10, 2012 | Permalink »
L.A. Schools Move from Zero Tolerance to Counseling and Advocacy for Troubled Youth
By Linda Harris
Los Angeles city officials, police, and school officials entered into a new partnership for dealing with troubled youth. Rather than punishment and issuing of citations for those with minor infractions, students will be offered counseling, support, and referral to appropriate services. These changes are a result of the continuous pressure from advocates, community organizers, parents, and civil rights organizations directed at changing the disciplinary practices which had roots in the zero tolerance policies of the nineties and resulted in early involvement of far too many students at an early age in the criminal justice system. Analysis by The Center for Public Integrity and the Los Angeles Labor-Community Strategy Center also brought to light that youth of color, particularly African-American youth, were disproportionately represented among those disciplined.
Public officials -- responding to the long-running community complaints and cognizant of the research that suggest that a high school student's first arrest quadrupled the likelihood of dropping out of school --worked with community advocates to develop new options.
Now, instead of citations, truant youth will be referred to one of thirteen youth centers where specialists will assess their needs and connect them to services to put them "back on track". According to Robert Sainz, assistant general manager of L.A.'s Community Development Department and who has been leading Los Angeles "Back on Track" collaboration on dropout recovery, "There's a very big pendulum shift. This is the first time the city and school district are working together specifically to bring students back to school."
Officials in the Los Angeles County Probation Department are also looking at alternative programs to keep students out of the court system and provide them instead with counseling, tutoring and other community services. Additionally, Los Angeles was recently awarded a $12 million Workforce Innovation Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to build a dropout recovery system as part of an impressive collaboration among Workforce Investment Boards, city and community leaders, the school district, the community college district, and the chamber of commerce.
Aug 03, 2012 | Permalink »
Raising the Visibility: Advancing Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Disconnected Youth
By Kisha Bird
In American communities - large, small, urban, rural, and suburban -- millions of young people are isolated from opportunities to realize their potential and participate fully in our society. An astounding 6.7 million youth ages 16 to 24 are disconnected from education, the labor market, and opportunity. America's youth are experiencing depression-era levels of unemployment, and we are losing significant ground with segments of our minority youth population. In particular, low-income young men of color are disproportionately affected by the current labor market, with fewer than one in five African-American and Latino young men having a job last month.
The Obama Administration has shown considerable leadership in this arena through the White House Council for Community Solutions and the Interagency Work Group on Disconnected Youth. The Department of Education's recent Request for Information on Strategies for Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth is also timely and necessary. In response to the request for information, CLASP submitted a set of comprehensive recommendations that we hope will lead to:
- continued visibility to the situation of this often forgotten segment of the youth population,
- advanced policies that support dropout recovery and the reengagement of youth in high-risk situations, and
- multiple federal funding streams that can create robust interventions to put youth on track to education, career, and life success.
It is important that these recent efforts are not one-time activities, but are launching points that will influence a broader vision of how federal policy can and should undergird local policy and program approaches for youth.
Jun 06, 2012 | Permalink »
Let's Seize this Opportunity and Keep the Focus on Disconnected Youth
By Kisha Bird
On Monday, the White House Council for Community Solutions held its final summit to culminate an 18-month process of bringing together myriad stakeholders in and outside the beltway to better understand the challenges facing youth ages 16 to 24 that are out of school and out of work. Across the country, there are 6.7 million "opportunity youth." The Council's aim has been to raise solutions to help reconnect these youth to education and jobs and the opportunity to realize their potential.
During Monday's summit, the Council released its final report, Community Solutions for Opportunity Youth, which provides recommendations for steps the federal government can and should take to continue elevating national awareness of the issues facing "opportunity youth," as well as a roadmap for implementing effective cross-agency policies and supporting community-level interventions. CLASP applauds the Council's important work and we are thrilled to see that many of its final recommendations include policies CLASP and the Campaign for Youth have long-advocated for, including: drive development of successful cross-sector community collaboratives, create shared national responsibility and accountability, engage youth as leaders in the solution and build more robust on-ramps to employment.
In 2008, the Campaign for Youth, a national coalition co-chaired by CLASP, released recommendations for a National Investment Strategy that focused on out-of-school and out-of-work youth ages16 to 24. Endorsed by over 250 organizations nationwide, the recommendations called for six primary strategies, driven by federal policy and designed to support local innovation, collaboration, and policy.