Sunday’s Children & the Law News Roundup

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School-to-Jailhouse Pipeline Not Only in Mississippi, Juvenile Justice Exchange

“How I like to define it,” Freeman said, “is the use of policies and practices that increase the likelihood that young people become incarcerated.” That includes at-school arrests for minor behavioral incidents, as well as what he calls more indirect actions, like suspensions, expulsions or references to juvenile court or alternative schools. Such practices have grown in the last 10 to 15 years, he said. “It really started out mostly in very low income communities of color, the schools in those districts. It’s expanded pretty dramatically beyond that.” In a high-profile Delaware case in 2009, a 6-year-old was almost suspended for 45 days for having his Cub Scout knife at school. The school board intervened to cut that to three to five days. The combination of zero-tolerance school rules, themselves fueled by safety fears, and the kind of high-stakes testing required by the federal government “create some of these dynamics,” Freeman contended.

Congress Returns Briefly, But Little Work is Done, Children’s Monitor

While a select group of critical programs including IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are exempt from these cuts, others including IV-B part 1, Child Welfare Services, Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start, and the Social Services Block Grant are not.

Study pushes early identification of kids’ mental health problems,

Spencer’s study found that more than 70 percent of the students diagnosed with mental illness and behavioral health problems by middle school had exhibited warning signs by second grade. Almost 25 percent exhibited “red flag” developmental issues during pre-kindergarten years.

Despite the vast majority of records including evidence of academic difficulties — retentions and social promotions, as well as behavioral and emotional problems — one in four children in the study sample, ages 12 to 16, had not been evaluated or declared eligible for special education services. For those who were found eligible, 95 percent still struggled academically. High rates of absenteeism, truancy and multiple suspensions were common to those students who did not receive special education services, the report says.

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