December 2015

Things to Consider in December 2015 from the RTSC:

Don’t Quit on Me: What Young People Who Left School Say About the Power of Relationships
Based on an enhanced Adverse Childhood Experiences survey, the authors conducted group interviews across the country to determine the four main reasons why being successful in school presents such a challenge to many at-risk youth. Overcoming challenging life circumstances; intentional efforts to resolve trauma, food insecurity, housing and other adverse life experiences; intensively supportive relationships; and educational stability are among the most important factors that can lead to graduation and academic success.

When My Child Is Disciplined At School:  A Guide for Massachusetts Families
MA Appleseed has developed this Parent Guide to help parents and guardians navigate through the discipline process. The different types of disciplinary actions schools can take and ways to advocate for students are discussed. It also provides detailed information in nonprofessionals’ terms on the legal framework that applies to different types of offenses and the range of disciplinary actions that may be taken, such as suspension and expulsion.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:  Fear Itself
An excellent article on the newest research and treatments for PTSD, which the author defines as resulting from varying degrees of trauma (including childhood trauma) tempered by the environments the victim experienced before and after the traumatic events. They can become stuck in a neurological state of fear. New treatments seek to retrain the brain’s fear response. The author’s hope is that acceptance of PTSD’s inherently physical nature will encourage sufferers to seek help early, when interventions are easier and more successful.

Overhauling Two-Tiered Case Intake System Is Key to DCF Reform – Pioneer Institute
This report dissects a number of studies and their recommendations, with additional suggestions for a direction forward for DCF in the context of a broader discussion of the agency’s recent history and issues with mission ambiguity. The first recommendation of this report is to overhaul the current two-tiered child intake system. Several options are considered including strengthening criteria for track assignment, modifications to the 45-day comprehensive assessment period, and requiring that Child Protective Services (CPS) review cases with families that refuse voluntary services on the assessment track.

Missed Opportunities:  Preventing Youth In the Child Welfare System From Entering the Juvenile Justice System
Children pulled into the child welfare system are often not afforded the kinds of stabilizing support systems that are essential for their healthy growth and well-being. This puts them at high risk of developing reactive behaviors that lead to their entry into the juvenile justice system. Involvement in the juvenile justice system is tied to academic failure, future arrests and other long-term consequences. Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ) worked with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) and the Department of Children & Families (DCF) to examine aggregate case information for the over 1,000 youth who had open cases with both DCF and DYS in 2014. Areas of discussion: most youths in the Massachusetts juvenile justice system have been involved in the child welfare system, many became involved with the system at a very young age, have many placements and home removals, and most of the youths are boys and minorities.

Hannah Stallkamp, who served as Project Associate for the past year recently stepped down to pursue another job opportunity. Anyone who has communicated with us over the past year understands what a great loss this is to our project. Hannah did an exceptional job at managing all of her various responsibilies and improved many of the processing systems that allow us to effectively support our volunteers. We all wish her the best in her new career.