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From our national partner Voices for America’s Children:

Originally Posted by Joanna Shoffner Scott on May. 12

You can make a more dramatic impact on a person’s life the younger you reach out to them. We believe that in a lot of issues, like education and health. But crime prevention might be the best example of the idea of “get ’em young.”

Youth who have been previously tried as adults are, on average, 34 percent more likely to commit crimes than youth put in the juvenile justice system. This and a body of other research shows that making an effort to get troubled children onto a better path pays off, preventing adult crime and reducing juvenile recidivism.

Click here to support juvenile justice reform with a message to your member of Congress.

I received this in my in-box earlier this week and want to share it with those of you interested in or working on the issues of racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice.  The Burns Institute out of San Francisco, just released the first-ever “Juvenile Justice Racial and Ethnic Disparities Data Map” which can be accessed at their website.  With a few clicks on the map, anyone can view the following information, where available, in any of the 50 states:

·   One-Day Count Incarceration Data: Publicly available counts and rates of youth in juvenile residential placement facilities on any given day by State, collected every two years from 1997-2006. The Burns Institute has displayed the information by the race/ethnicity of the juveniles.

·   Annual Juvenile Justice System Data by Decision-Making Point: The rate of involvement of youth in the juvenile justice system by decision-making point (arrest, court referral, secure detention, transfer, etc), where available, at the State and County levels.

·   Other Information Including: 1) Each State’s Three Year Plan for reducing disproportionate minority contact (DMC); 2) Contact information for each State’s Juvenile Justice Specialist and State DMC Coordinator; 3) States’ statutory guidelines for detention and age of juvenile jurisdiction; 4) Information about each State Advisory Group (SAG).

I hope you find this information as interesting as I did and valuable in your work.

Julia Neighbors, Project Manager


Spent a day this week going through my wildly out-of-control email inbox and trying to catch-up on a few things – Okay, on a lot of things…my apologies to those of you who didn’t always get the most timely responses 😉

It was a lot of work, but I’m glad I did it. As overwhelmed as I feel by all the “updates” sent to me, the reality is they often provide great information. One I thought was particularly worth sharing came from Connect For Kids. They send biweekly email updates that cover a huge range of child advocacy topics. Apparently last year they counted the “hits” on each of the stories/links in those weekly updates and compiled a list of the most popular. Take a look at their website or go directly to any of the stories below that were of interest to folks all across the country.



The Most Popular Items from Updates in 2009

Overall, you clicked on funding alerts more than any other single category in the 2009 CFK Updates. It’s not really fair to single out a few feature items, but it is interesting. Here, in a nutshell, were your favorites:

Voices for Georgia’s Children invites you to attend their
6th Annual Legislative Breakfast on TUESDAY FEB 23.

The breakfast if presented as part of the
2010 Children’s Policy Watch at the Capital

This year’s theme: Investing in Young Children: The Value of Partnerships

The breakfast brings together more than 100 legislators and child advocates from across Georgia to focus on current policy issues affecting children in our state.



Tuesday, February 23
7:30 – 9 a.m*

NOTE: Following the legislative breakfast, from 9:40 – 10:20 a.m., JUSTGeorgia and Georgia CASA will present a briefing on issues related to safety and fairness for Georgia’s youth. This is presented as part of JUSTGeorgia/CASA Day at the Capitol. February 23 is also Georgia PTA Day at the Capitol and a lobby day for the Georgia League of Women Voters.

The Georgia Freight Depot – Blue Room

65 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30303

Legislative Breakfast speakers include:

Philip A. Peterson
(see bio below)
Senior Vice President, Aon Consulting
Advisory Board, Partnership for America’s Success

Dr. Beverly Tatum
President, Spelman College
Co-Chair, Early Education Commission

Rep. Penny Houston (R- HD 170-Nashville, GA)
Chair, House Appropriations Human Services Subcommittee


*Philip A. Peterson, Senior Vice President and a human resource consultant and actuary for Aon Consulting, specializing in global retirement strategies, stock option valuation and human capital metrics development. As a member of the Advisory Board of the Partnership for America’s Success, Phil is part of a group of influential corporate leaders who seek to highlight importance of early childhood investment as a strategy for America’s long-term economic competitiveness.

Phil currently serves on the board of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, and on the state board of the Pennsylvania Economy League. Phil helped co-create with Child Care Matters, the Aon/United Way of Southeastern PA Hand-in-Hand Award for quality child care in the business community. Phil is the co-chair of the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission, and Pennsylvania delegate to the Telluride Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investment.

In the current issue of VOX, staff member Giovan Bezan writes about the current effort by the JUSTGeorgia coalition to revise the Georgia Juvenile Code. “Just Is” Isn’t Justice Fighting for Change in Georgia’s Youth Laws.” Bezan explains (from a teen perspective) how a young person whose made bad choices can get trapped in a vicious cycle of foster homes and detention centers.

VOX readers will also find an interesting commentary on the current healthcare reform effort, “If We Were In Charge…” by Charnall Arnold.  There are a growing range of outlets for teens to express themselves and share their opinions.  VOX is one of the oldest and and remains one of the best.

VOX Teen Communications is a non-profit youth-development organization located in
downtown Atlanta, GA, dedicated to giving teens the skills and resources to raise their voices about issues that most matter to them. Through VOX, teens come from all around the Atlanta area to work together, share information, explore their talents and express themselves by writing articles, creating art and designing layouts for the VOX newspaper and Web site.

Two Films, Two Routes From Poverty, that’s the headline on an article written by A.O. Scott in the New York Times back in November. Yes, November. And yes, I know blogs are supposed to be timely. So why am I writing this now? Because I can’t seem to get that article out of my head.

As you can probably guess, the “two films” referenced are Precious and The Blindside and the NYTimes article’s author addresses a variety of tough topics from race to political ideology. The author generally argues that The Blindside represents a more conservative approach to poverty – one that is “individual, charitable and, at least implicitly faith-based;” while implying the approach seen in Precious is more liberal because it is “sanctioned and supported by the state.” I’m not sure that’s right. Yes, the players who help Precious are mostly state employees – teachers and social workers but in many ways they’re going beyond their state-sanctioned role. I think the key sentence in the entire article is

Both movies tell stories that suggest a way out of poverty, brutality and domestic calamity for certain lucky individuals while saying very little about how those conditions might be changed.

And that is the point I can’t get out of my head. Why don’t we do more to change conditions, not just individual lives? The story of Michael Oher, the young man who makes good in The Blindside is a great story. He’s a great hero and someone clearly worth cheering for. The Tuohys, the family who help him out and eventually become his legal guardians, are also clearly good people – people you’d want on your side and people who deserve a thank you for making the world a bit better place. That said, if our only approach to grinding poverty, child abuse and so many other social ills is on an individual level, then I fear there will always be another Michael Oher in desperate need of a helping hand.

I’m not okay with that. I don’t want there to be any more children in desperate need. I want to live in a state where everyone and every family has the ability to make it, has the resources they need, the roof over their head, the access to health care, to a high-quality education. I am an advocate and proud of that title because we need systems change. I am eternally grateful to those out there who “help one” but I also encourage you to speak for all. Keep following Voices’ blog, sign up for our action alerts and when the word goes out that your senator or representative needs to hear from you, take the time to act. Help us change the way things work so that all kids have a shot, not just the “lucky” ones.

Budget briefings will be held in Room 341 of the Capitol all week.  The following are briefings of specific interest to children’s advocates:

 Tuesday 1/19/10

1:05 pm  Governor Perdue speaks

1:30 pm Economic Outlook and Revenue Estimating, Dr. Kenneth Heaghney, State Fiscal Economist

2 PM  Department of Revenue, Bart Craham, Commissioner

Wed. 1/20/10

10:30 am  Juvenile Justice, Albert Murray, Commissioner

1 pm Education, Kathy Cox, State Superintendent

Thursday, 1/21/10

9 am  Human Services, B.J. Walker, Commissioner

10 am Community Health, Dr. Rhonda Medows, Commissioner

11 am  Behavioral Health, Frank Shelp, Commissioner

You can watch the briefings from the comfort of your home or office by clicking

Isn’t it time Georgia looks for alternatives to how we treat our troubled youth?

Georgia currently spends about $200,000,000 locking up kids, most of whom have not committed violent offenses.  What results would we see if we tried out the Missouri model and used some of that money for programs located within local communities that actually provides counseling and rehabilitation

As the Project Manager of JUSTGeorgia, I hope to serve as a resource for you, sharing timely and important information about what’s going on in the juvenile justice and child welfare fields in Georgia and on the national front while at the same time, building a coalition of advocates committed to justice and safety for our children.

To that end, I read an editorial in last week’s New York Times titled “Juvenile Injustice” calling for a new way of delivering justice for kids, citing the Missouri model which calls for smaller regional facilities that focus on rehabilitation and keeping kids closer to home so parents and the community are involved in their rehabilitation.  The Missouri Model has received a lot of attention as a promising model of juvenile justice reform by reducing the costs of confinement and decreasing recidivism rates.  What do you think would be successful?  Let us know.

Welcome back to Voices’ Blog for Georgia’s Children

Over the next weeks and months, look for new (and much briefer!) posts every week from Voices staff and colleagues full of opinion, ideas, best practices, video, photos, tips, advocacy opportunities and links to the latest information about how kids are faring in Georgia and what people across the state are doing to make their lives better.

Beginning today, the staff of Voices for Georgia’s Children will be blogging on a regular basis each week.  We are anxious to generate conversations and to hear your perspectives.  Through this blog and other online tools, we’ll be continuing to expand our network of dedicate advocates working on behalf of children across the state.

Over the next four months, Mindy Binderman, Advocacy Director, will focus largely onlegislative developments under the Gold Dome.  These are the same fact-filled Daily Updates you’ve come to rely on from Voices over the past few years whenever the legislature is in session.  Mindy will also be blogging on a wide range of topics, including advocacy opportunities for professionals as well as parents and other citizens who want to do something to make a difference for kids.

Beth Locker, Policy Director, will be sharing insights and information about issues and best practices related to a wide range of policy areas related to children.

Joann Yoon, our Associate Policy Director for Child Health, will be your source for the latest on national healthcare reform and how it could impact Georgia’s kids and families, among many other health-related topics and Georgia’s own policy environment.

When it comes to young people and families involved with the juvenile court system, Julia Neighbors, Program Director for JUSTGeorgia, will be our eyes and ears.  She, along with Mindy, will be keeping close watch on the progress of SB 292, the Child Protection and Public Safety Act.

Of course, you’ll also be hearing from Pat Willis, our Executive Director.  She’ll be asking tough questions about the status of kids in Georgia and what leaders and voters can and should be doing so that children and young people across our state are healthier, safer, better educated, more connected to their community and ready to find jobs and achieve their full potential.

As Director of Public Policy and Communications, I’ll be talking about how people are talking about kids.  Or rather, how stakeholders and others doing this work are connecting and sharing their ideas and concerns: online, in person, in the media, at conferences and in other public settings.  I’ll be sharing communications and social networking tips for advocates and looking for tips and suggestions from you.

I’ll also be introducing guest bloggers to this space from a variety of communities, including business leaders, small business owners, faith leaders, educators, parents, entrepreneurs, artists, environmentalists, and, perhaps most importantly, kids and young people.

Of course, if you’re reading this, then you’re always invited to make your voice heard by making a comment on anything you see here.  We want to hear from you!  What do you think?  What are your concerns?  What are your suggestions?  How can we do what we do better and more effectively?

Our new conversation starts today.

Thanks for being part of it!



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