Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Missouri’s Juvenile Justice System in Crisis, Finds Report, Washington University in St. Louis

Missouri has been held out as a model for juvenile corrections programs, but the court system that puts young people into these programs is in crisis, finds a recent report by the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC).

“Many young people in Missouri wind up having to defend themselves in our juvenile courts – and sometimes from behind bars,” says Mae C. Quinn, JD, professor of law and co-director of the Civil Justice Clinic at Washington University in St. Louis.

“These young people deserve counsel to assist them throughout the juvenile court process, but due to inadequate funding and the problematic –potentially unconstitutional – structure of Missouri’s juvenile court system, this is not happening.”

Minnesota Faces Special Education Teacher Shortage, Education Week

The shortage in educators trained in special education is an old story, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune provides depth to the issue in an recent article which notes that while more than 800 special education teachers quit in last school year, only 417 new special educator teaching licenses were granted in that timeframe.

As a result, the state is relying more on teachers who do not have special education training, teachers are traveling hundreds of miles to provide services at far-flung schools, and specialists are working with students over the Internet, the article says. The piece also notes the paperwork burden on teachers, and the fears they have of some of their students, who may have problems with aggression. From the piece:

New Report Details Numerous Problems in Tennessee’s Child Welfare System, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

A report released last week by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY) calls for the state’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to step up its efforts in meeting the needs of young people with psychological and other health problems. The assessment, “Kids Count: The State of the Child in Tennessee,” finds that more than half of Tennessee’s foster care youth have mental illnesses, while approximately nine-out-of-10 youth in the state’s juvenile facilities are estimated to have mental health issues.

Earlier this year, a national Annie E. Casey Foundation report listed Tennessee as the 10th worst state for “food hardship” among children, with both Knoxville and Memphis ranked among the 25 worst metro areas for food insecurity.