News update: Juveniles broke out of a Nashville detention center

According to an article in The Tennessean, several juveniles being held in the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville, Tennessee escaped from their bedrooms in the middle of the night on May 7, 2014. The children made it to the outdoor courtyard on the detention center’s campus, but they were caught before they actually left the grounds.

The spokesperson for the Center said, “The kids for a while were running around in the yard, but there was nowhere to go.”

When it was realized that the children were not in their beds, on-duty employees called the police, who were on guard outside of the Center’s property. Eventually, employees were able to convince the boys to return to the facility. They returned around 6:00 a.m., after the 4:00 a.m. escape.

There were no injuries incurred or weapons used, to anyone’s knowledge at this point. The children escaped through windows that they had broken in their individual bedroom doors.

This news article prompted the research of other juveniles attempting to escape from juvenile detention facilities. Unfortunately, it is not all that rare that juveniles are able to (at least to some extent) leave their room and attempt escape.

The following are more examples of recent attempted escapes:

– Guard beaten in violent escape from Harvey juvenile detention center

– 4 juveniles escaped detention center, assaulted guards

– Video from a massive escape at juvenile detention center

– Teen back in custody after escaping from S.F. juvenile detention facility

– Two boys escape from juvenile detention centerescaping jail

ABA Resolution Seeks to Prevent Foster Kids Becoming Homeless

The ABA House of Delegates met last Monday, February 10, 2014, at the Midyear Meeting in Chicago, Illinois to debate and vote on a wide range of public policy issues.

One Resolution on the table, which was submitted by the Commission on Youth at Risk, “urges governments to enact and implement legislation and policies which prohibit youth from transitioning from foster care to a status of homelessness, or where a former foster youth will lack a permanent connection to a supportive adult.” This Resolution, Resolution 109A, was adopted.

The Resolution says governments and courts should provide support for housing assistance for children who turn 18 while in foster care and that dependency cases should not be dismissed until a Court finds that the child has (1) housing, (2) a permanent connection with at least one supportive adult, and for youths with disabilities, (3) a transition to adult systems that provide health care and other support.

The Resolution cited a report that followed over 700 children who had been in the foster care system in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. 36% of the former foster care children reported at least one instance of homelessness by the age of 26. The Resolution explained that “further action is needed to help former foster youth find safe and secure housing and avoid homelessness,” suggesting that Courts “simply forbid a child leaving foster care from becoming immediately homeless.”

In support of the second requirement (that the Court find the child has a permanent connection with at least one supportive adult), the Resolution explains that, “youth need stable and caring relationships with committed adults in order to transition smoothly into adulthood and avoid negative outcomes like poverty and unemployment.” In 2009, 80% of eighteen-year-olds who aged out of foster care through emancipation had no permanent family to turn to.

As it relates to the disabled youth in foster care, the Resolution argues that states “pay special attention to the transition needs of youth with disabilities because youth with disabilities are over-represented in the child welfare system and are at greater risk for poorer outcomes than their non-disabled system-involved peers.” Special transition planning requirements must be put in place because the successful transition of youth with disabilities requires accessing benefits, services, and supports in adult systems that operate by rules and eligibility criteria very different than the child serving systems.  Many of these services and supports have long waiting lists, are not entitlements, and require careful and early planning to ensure that the youth can access them upon discharge.  In addition, because many of these youth cannot rely on a parent or caregiver to help them navigate this complicated transition, clear requirements and procedures for transition planning for these youth is essential to their health and well-being.

homeless

“I Was Raised By A Gay Couple And I’m Doing Pretty Well”

Zach Wahls was conceived using artificial insemination to his biological mother, Terry Wahls. He has a younger sister who shares the same sperm donor and parents. Terry met Jackie Reger in 1995 and the two held a commitment ceremony in 1996.

He has said that having lesbian parents caused occasional problems during his school years when he found it difficult to explain to his peers or found that some of them were forbidden to socialize with him. He was sometimes teased and sometimes bullied because of his parents’ relationship. In high school he wrote a series of columns for his high school newspaper about being raised by a lesbian couple.

While still a high school senior, following the Iowa Supreme Court decision in Varnum v. Brien that invalidated the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, he wrote an op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register in which he advocated a complete separation of marriage from civil unions, calling for legislation “to completely remove government from the marriage process altogether, leaving a religious ceremony to religious institutions, and mak[ing] civil unions, accessible by any two people, including those of the same sex, the norm for legal benefits.”

On January 31, 2011, Wahls addressed the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in a public hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa. The young man is an incredibly talented speaker and even if you disagree with his overall point, I think it is a valuable video to watch. You can find the video here.

For more information on Zach and his activism for LGBT rights, go here and here.

 

Zach Wahls and His Two Mothers