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FALL 2012 Vol. 24, NO. 4
A newsletter for friends of Voices for Children in Nebraska
Moving Nebraska’s Juvenile Justice System Forward By Sarah Forrest On Thursday, December 6, nearly 250 Nebraskans gathered in Lincoln for Voices for Children’s first ever Juvenile Justice Summit. Voices for Children has long been known for our Kids Count in Nebraska Report and our work on children’s issues from health to child welfare. For the past 25 years, we’ve also been working to improve Nebraska’s juvenile justice system, but we haven’t gotten where we need to go. The Juvenile Justice Summit was an opportunity for a range of stakeholders to begin a broader conversation about how Nebraska’s system functions and what changes need to be made so that youth in the juvenile justice system are put on a path towards a bright future. With the generous support of the Woods Charitable Fund, Boys Town, Douglas County’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, the Platte Institute, and the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association, participants heard from a number of national and local experts on juvenile justice reform. Just what do we need to be looking at improving in Nebraska? Experts shared some of their thoughts: 1. Reducing Nebraska’s reliance on juvenile incarceration: The United States is alone among developed nations in its frequent use of incarceration, which over time has proved to be costly, ineffective, and dangerous for youth. Nebraska currently incarcerates about 600 youth a year. Almost 3/4 have never com-
Juvenile Justice Summit closing panel participants discuss moving Nebraska’s juvenile justice system forward. From left to right, Voices for Children’s Sarah Forrest, Bart Lubow from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Marc Levin and Jeanette Moll from the Texas Public Policy Center, Thomas Pristow, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services, DHHS, Corey Steel, Deputy Administrator of the Office of Probation, and State Senator Brad Ashford.
mitted a violent offense. Bart Lubow of the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommended reducing the use of incarceration, which is better for youth and will free up resources for investment in other areas of Juvenile Justice Summit. 2. Decreasing the number of filings in adult court: Nebraska is one of the few states in the nation that frequently processes children and youth through adult court, where few rehabilitative opportunities are available. Nearly half of our court-involved youth are processed through adult court. Dr. Anne Hobbs, director of the Juvenile Justice Institute, pointed out the links between adult court involvement and higher rates of recidivism.
3. Creating a system consistent with the needs of children: Youth with involvement in Nebraska’s juvenile justice system shared their desire for more consistency, more contact and support from family and other significant adults in their lives, and more voice and choice in juvenile justice cases. Dr. Kayla Pope talked about the need to build trauma-informed juvenile justice systems acknowledging the mental health needs and histories of youth who come through its doors. 4. Bolstering community-based services: Many states rely on incarceration and detention because of a lack of community-based juvenile justice services. see page 3
Voices for Children
A Letter From
Voices for Children in Nebraska educates and motivates Nebraskans to take action to better the lives of Nebraska’s vulnerable children in the areas of Health, Education, Safety and Economic Stability.
“Fact: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Board of Directors David A. Hecker, JD, President Jocelyn Joyce, Vice President Delores “DJ” Clarke, Secretary Steve Drucker, CPA, Treasurer Keith Allen, PhD Anne Yu Buettner, MA Judy Greenwald, MSW Tim Hron, MA, LIMHP Kristen Lembke, CPA Lloyd Meyer Steve Mitchell Eric Nelson, MSE
Staff Carolyn D. Rooker, MSW, Executive Director
Rachel Boyer, Executive Assistant & Special Projects Coordinator
Melissa Breazile, Research Coordinator Sarah Forrest, Policy Coordinator – Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice
Connie Hacker, Accounts Manager Aubrey Mancuso, Policy Coordinator – Economic Stability and Health
Courtnay VanDeVelde, Policy Associate Jill Westfall, Communications & Operations Coordinator
Child’sVIEW Fall 2012 • VOLUME 24, NUMBER 4 is published quarterly by
Voices for Children in Nebraska 7521 Main St., Ste. 103, Omaha, NE 68127 communications coordinator: design:
Jill Westfall Wayne Kobza/Pencil to Press
www.voicesforchildren.com A member of:
2 • Fall 2012
Carolyn D. Rooker – Executive Director
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of another.” At Voices for Children in Nebraska, the last few months of the year have been spent preparing for our upcoming legislative session and the release of our next Kids Count in Nebraska Report. We’ve been hard at work researching, writing, reading, revising, and putting together a common vision for our advocacy in 2013. In other words, we’ve been getting our “geese” in order for an amazing 2013. Looking back, 2012 has been a whirlwind year – from a record number of bills passed at the legislature to a record setting Spotlight Gala. All of our successes this year have been built on the momentum of the last 24 years of work. We get further on our journey toward making Nebraska a better place for children by working together and building on success after success. We are taking this momentum into the new year in three ways: 1. We will continue to tell the whole story of Nebraska’s kids to policy makers, community leaders, and advocates through our use of video and infographics. There are interesting projects in the
works for 2013 that you will hear about in the coming months. 2. We are celebrating 20 years of the Kids Count in Nebraska Report with the most radical transformation to date. The new report will make it easier to find the data and information used by professionals and policymakers and will present the information in a more compelling way. 3. We are always growing and expanding our circle of advocates. The most important lesson from the geese is the power of community. As we enter 2013, we are flying high on a string of successful events, like the Juvenile Justice Summit (page 1), that have better connected and grown the community of people working to change the systems that serve kids. Thank you for being a part of our flock for Nebraska’s kids. With a community of advocates and friends like you, we’re set to fly further and faster than ever before.
NOTE: The illustration in this article highlights a few key words from our 25 years of being a voice for Nebraska’s kids. As always, the child is the center of what we do!
20th Edition of Kids Count to Feature a Fresh Look By Melissa Breazile Jan. 23 will mark the release of the 20th edition of the Kids Count in Nebraska Report. That’s 20 years of reporting reliable, timely data that tells the whole story of child well-being in Nebraska. We’re not just celebrating the 20th edition, though. We’re also celebrating the launch of a new look for Kids Count in Nebraska. One of the most obvious changes you’ll see in the 2012 report is that it’s far more visually-oriented than in years past. We’ve condensed the narrative-heavy portions of reports past into smaller bites of information – more bullet points, more charts, and more infographics. These changes are intended to help you, the data user, find the numbers you need quickly and easily. Some things don’t change. As in past books, this year’s edition includes a commentary on a particular aspect of child well-being. Because of all the changes that have occurred within Nebraska’s child welfare system in recent years, we believed it would be helpful to use data to paint a current picture of where kids are in the sys-
tem and how we can respond thoughtfully and deliberately to their needs. In addition, this year’s report will feature new data indicators throughout the book, especially in child welfare, juvenile justice, and early childhood. These new indicators were added to ensure that Kids Count in Nebraska keeps pace with the ever-increasing need to understand child well-being in our state. None of this reporting would be possible, however, without the expertise of the Kids Count Technical Team of Advisors - the individuals who are responsible for sharing data from their respective agencies and helping us understand the meaning behind the numbers. We are thankful for their support. As we gear up for the launch of the new Kids Count in Nebraska Report, we hope that you will mark your calendars and attend one of our release events. Details for the release events can be found on the back cover.
More Youth in Nebraska are ‘Disconnected’ By Melissa Breazile Our state and nation’s future prosperity hinges on the ability of today’s youth to productively and actively participate in growing the economy. Preparing them for the future – through education, jobs, and opportunity – is key. However, in 2011, 12% of Nebraska’s youth were considered disconnected, meaning they were not working or in school. That’s up from 10% in 2000. The youth employment rate (which includes those ages 16 to 24) dropped during that same timeframe from 73% to 60%. Nebraska’s not alone in struggling to connect its youth to jobs and opportunity. But
according to the new policy report Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, such statistics “suggest dire consequences for financial stability and employment prospects in that population.” The report notes that young people are finding many doors closed to them as they start out in the workforce. Even low-wage or starter jobs require ever-rising credentials or go to older workers with better experience. “At this rate,” the report says, “a generation will grow up with little early work experience, missing the chance to build knowledge and the job-readiness skills that come from holding part-time and starter jobs.” see page 4
Juvenile Justice Summit from page 1
Betsy Clarke and Jim McCarter from Illinois shared the success of the Redeploy Illinois program in improving community safety, effectively serving youth, and saving state dollars. Jeanette Moll and Marc Levin presented a paper on Nebraska’s juvenile justice system that highlighted the need for greater County Aid dollars. All of the summit materials are available on Voices for Children’s website: www.voicesforchildren.com/ jjsummit. Our hope is that organizations, stakeholders, and policymakers continue to build on what we know is working here in Nebraska and around the country. The Juvenile Justice Summit is just the beginning of Voices for Children’s work over the next few years to ensure that youth receive the right services at the right time, in the right way, that put them on the path to a successful adulthood. Child’s View • 3
Connect with Voices for Children in the New Year!
With the legislative session upon us, information and news about the policies that affect kids moves fast. Connect with Voices for Children to make sure you stay up-to-date! Subscribe to our email alerts – http://voicesforchildren.com/advoKID Like us on Facebook – http://facebook.com/voicesforchildreninnebraska Follow us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/voicesNE
IN THIS ISSUE
u Juvenile Justice Summit u Letter From the Executive Director u 20th Edition of Kids Count to Feature a Fresh Look
Omaha, NE Permit No. 752
Voices for Children in Nebraska 7521 Main St., Ste. 103 Omaha, NE 68127 RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED
u More Youth in Nebraska are ‘Disconnected’ u Connect with Voices for Children in the New Year
More Youth in Nebraska are ‘Disconnected’ from page 3
Youth and Work argues that we must ensure that youth gain academic know-how, technical skills, and the “soft skills” necessary to successfully launch a career. The report calls for a national youth employment strategy, which includes the following policy priorities: • Promote funding that follows youth across systems, including youth who are out of school; • Identify and provide enhanced support for populations who are disconnected, including young parents; • Link funding to more accountability- and results-based out comes, such as degree attainment rather than enrollment; • Create more efficient and accessible systems, such as for finan cial aid; • Creative incentives, such as a youth payroll tax credit, to encour age more businesses to hire young people; and • Track outcomes across systems to better understand the needs and progress of disconnected youth. More recommendations and complete details are available in the report, which may be accessed online at http://bit.ly/V73or9.
Kids Count Report Release We’re excited to announce that the 20th edition of the Kids Count in Nebraska Report will be released January 23 and 24, 2013. We will be releasing the redesigned data book at a pair of breakfast events:
Lincoln – January 23 7:45 am McPhee Elementary (820 Goodhue Blvd.)
Omaha – January 24 8:30 am Nebraska Children’s Home Society (4939 S. 118th St.) RSVP at http://voicesforchildren.com/kidscountRSVP or by calling (402) 597-3100 Order a copy of the new Kids Count in Nebraska Report at http://voicesforchildren.com/orderKC2012