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IN BRIEF

“We’re being held captive by the government shutdown because we don’t know when it’s going to end.”
The government is open again, and the Violence Against Women Act has been extended, but many fear the possibility of a second shutdown, and the Trump administration continues to quietly threaten the health and safety of women, people of color, and immigrants. Slate reporter Natalie Ninasi recently wrote about the administration’s changes to the Office on Violence Against Women’s definitions of domestic violence and sexual assault. And, a “recent internal Justice Department memo directed senior civil rights officials to examine how decades-old “disparate impact regulations might be changed or removed in their areas of expertise,” which could jeopardize federal protections in education and housing.

“What I hope the world remembers about the Tornillo tents is that they were a child incarceration facility, a child jail, in the 21st century.”
The last children housed at the Tornillo tent city for migrant children left the temporary detention center on January 11th, according to a tweet from Representative Will Hurd. “Federal officials reported that 5,500 of the youths had been released to a parent or guardian to await a decision on their immigration case. The other 700 were transferred to other federal detention facilities, and it is uncertain where they are today.” With Tornillo’s closure, “a rapidly expanding facility in Homestead, Florida” is now the largest detention facility for unaccompanied children, and just one of many facilities “operating illegally without licenses and committing several other violations, according to a team of lawyers who oversee a court-ordered agreement dictating where – and how – the government can house children.”

Thousands more children than the 2,737 identified as of December were separated from their families prior to the administration’s zero-tolerance policy, according to an issue brief published by the Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General. In a court filing for an ACLU lawsuit “challenging the government’s separation of thousands of children at the border since the summer of 2017,” the Trump administration said reuniting those families might not be “within the realm of the possible.”

Meanwhile, 15-month-old Juliet, who was separated from her father at the U.S. – Mexico border on December 28th, has finally been reunited with her mother. Although immigration authorities say she was separated from her father due to his criminal record, advocates fear the administration continues to apply its zero tolerance policy at the border. Sindy Flores, Juliet’s mother, is wearing an ankle monitor and staying with family pending her asylum case. However, Customs and Border Protection officers will “begin turning asylum-seekers back across the southern border to wait in Mexico,” under a new Trump administration policy.

Juvenile Justice
The confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee, William Barr, has been postponed to February 7th over concerns that he would impede the Mueller investigation, but juvenile justice advocates are raising alarm over Barr’s track record of favoring punitive approaches in dealing with youth in the justice system, including remarks he made in his previous tenure as attorney general in the early 90s.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges published “enhanced juvenile justice guidelines,” an update of guidelines published in 2005 to “guide court improvement in the handling of juvenile delinquency cases.”

Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Lisa Murkowski reintroduced legislation to address the epidemic of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. Savanna’s Act would “increase coordination among all levels of law enforcement, improve data collection and information sharing, and empower tribal governments with the resources they need in cases involving missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.”

A new report from the Office of the Child Advocate in Connecticut, examines the conditions of confinement of incarcerated and detained youth in five state-run facilities. Among the findings: “youth of color remain disproportionately confined and incarcerated in Connecticut’s state-run facilities, and the deeper youth go into the correctional system, the less likely they are to receive any developmentally appropriate programming and supports necessary to help youth change their behavior and successfully discharge back to their communities without committing new offenses.”

new interactive data tool and accompanying report from Vera Institute of Justice, shed light on the over-reliance on arrests for non-violent or low-level offenses, revealing that fewer than 5% of the more than 10 million arrests made each year in the U.S. are for serious violent offenses. According to the report, women are more likely to be arrested for non-violent or low-level offenses, and women’s arrests increased by 83% from 1980 to 2014.

Exclusionary School Discipline
Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for an Education Department investigationinto allegations that four 12-year-old black girls were strip-searched at their middle school in Binghamton, NY for being “hyper and giddy.” An internal investigation by the Binghamton City School District found “no evidence” that a strip search occurred.

Latinx, African American students, and students with disabilities were discriminated against in school, according to a California Department of Justice investigation into the Stockton Unified School District. The investigation found that “when students acted out due to their disabilities, they were at times referred to law enforcement,” and that “law enforcement referrals had a disparate impact on African American and Latino students.” In Florida, an examination of suspensions for the 2017-2018 school year found “that there are more girls being suspended overall than for any individual race – other than black.” A new issue brief from ChangeLab Solutions “explores the connection between racial disparities in exclusionary school discipline and the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences,” recommending non-punitive approaches to school discipline, including social and emotional learning and restorative justice practices.

In Mississippi, HB 1176 seeks to protect official school staff members who purposely misgender their transgender students from being fired or suspended. According to newly released state-by-state data snapshots on the experiences of LGBTQ middle and high school students gathered from GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey, 59% of transgender students were prevented from using their chosen name or pronoun in Mississippi schools. 41 states and Puerto Rico are included in the data snapshots, which can be used by school administrators, advocates, and policymakers to evaluate schools in their state.

“Any of us who ever ignored the R. Kelly stories, or ever believed he was being set up/attacked by the system were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls.”
In light of Lifetime’s docu-series, “Surviving R. Kelly”, RCA Records and parent company Sony Music will drop R. Kelly from the label, though he will not be removed from the website. The series has sparked numerous conversations on how the legal system fails black girls, women, and non-binary survivors of violence, including connections to the criminalization of Cyntoia Brown (who was recently granted clemency), and the continued lack of outrage toward other abusive artists like Chris Brown (who is currently signed with RCA Records).Salamishah and Scheherazade Tillet, who consulted on the “Surviving R. Kelly” series, wrote about how the documentary ‘returned #MeToo to Black Girls’ in an op-ed for the New York Times: “now we have to make sure that it does not leave.”

Health
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pioneer in the study of childhood adversity and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, will serve as California’s first surgeon general. Governor Gavin Newsom, who appointed Dr. Burke Harris, also included $45 million in his proposed budget to fund Adverse Childhood Experience screening for children and adults in the state’s medicaid program.

Girls’ pain is taken less seriously than that of boys by adults, according to a new study from psychologists at Yale University. The new research echoes similar studies that also take race into account, as well as studies that focus specifically on adult women – carrying disturbing implications for the diagnosis, treatment, and overall health of girls and women.

In New York, Governor Cuomo signed bills that “ban anti-transgender discrimination and the use of conversion therapy on minors.”

The department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule that would give health care providers license to “refuse to provide treatment, referrals, or assistance with procedures if these activities would violate their stated religious or moral convictions,” putting the health of LGBTQ people and those seeking abortion services at risk. The administration also proposed a new rule under a division of Health and Human Services that would “restrict insurance coverage for abortion care. Health-care experts said the rule is meant to steer insurers away from covering abortion services.”

“Anti-choice restrictions were considered in 16 states” in January, including four states seeking state constitutional amendments for “fetal personhood.”

Child Welfare
On the 33rd day of the government shutdown, the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families violated federal and state discrimination law by allowing a federally funded foster agency to discriminate against Jewish and Muslim families. The move “opens the door for foster care agencies in other states and players at other HHS-funded agencies, including the offices for Medicare and Medicaid, National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, to discriminate in the name of religious freedom while keeping their federal funding.”

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Marco Rubio introduced the “State Flexibility for Families First Transitions Act” legislation that would “extend waivers for states receiving Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, the entitlement that pays for foster care and adoption, to allow for greater funding and flexibility for foster care and child welfare recipients beyond the current federal baseline.”

Congress members Stephanie Murphy and Brian Fitzpatrick reintroduced the Combat Online Predators Act, bipartisan legislation that “increases the criminal penalty that a federal judge is authorized to impose on a defendant convicted of this crime,” particularly in instances where the defendant is an adult and the victim is a minor.

Robert Latham, Associate Director of the Children and Youth Law Clinic at University of Miami used 300,000 youth records and 77.8 million data points to map the placement paths of every child in Florida’s foster care system since 2002. The project, “This is not okay – visualizing foster care placement instability” is available on his website for public use.

In Kansas, Senator Oletha Faust Goudeau filed a bill that would require agencies who contract with the state’s Department of Children and Families to keep records of how they spend the money they receive from the state and federal government. The bill, which Senator Goudeau is filing for the third time, would also require “those agencies to put any savings back into providing support services for children,” and “require written plans of action to help at risk families avoid losing children to the system.”

The National Mentoring Resource Center released a Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit for program coordinators working with girls age 9 -13. The toolkit focuses on using an intersectional approach in working with diverse populations and taking into account girls’ many intersecting identities, including “race, disability, mental health, sexual and gender variance.”

OPPORTUNITIES

WATCH

BOOKMARKS

UPCOMING

TAKE NOTE

“We refuse narratives that suggest that girls who dress and look like us deserve to be assaulted. We reject stereotypes that deem us unworthy of having our rights protected. We believe Black girls matter. Period. We will no longer be silent. We will be heard.”

Source: A Long Walk Home’s Girl/Friends Leaders, Black Girls from Chicago: A Statement of Solidarity for the Young Women in “Surviving R. Kelly

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