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Separating Families
“An Associated Press investigation drawing on hundreds of court documents, immigration records and interviews in the U.S. and Central America identified holes in the system that allow state court judges to grant custody of migrant children to American families — without notifying their parents.”

The Trump administration is considering a new policy under which “parents would be asked to choose whether they would prefer that their children remain detained with them, potentially for years, or be released into a government shelter.”

The policy would help the administration get around the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, forcing parents who choose to remain with their children “to waive, on behalf of the child, the assertion of rights under the Flores Settlement Agreement to be released, including the rights with regard to placement in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the minor’s age and special needs, and the right to release or placement in a ‘licensed program.’”

“I am worried she will be given up for adoption. We are suffering immensely.”
Kids as young as two years old continue to have cases in immigration court. “There are more children showing up more often to federal immigration courtrooms like Judge Zagzoug’s, at hearings that could determine whether they will be deported, reunited with their parents, or granted the asylum that their parents desperately want for them. They often sit at counsel tables alone, unaccompanied by any family and sometimes without even a lawyer.”

Amber Jamieson reports from a tour of a youth immigration detention center in Tornillo, Texas: “It opened in June, and the contractor running the site had a 30-day contract. At that time, 326 children were being housed there. But four months after its opening, the shelter 30 miles outside of El Paso has grown into a bustling town. It now holds nearly five times its initial population — roughly 1,500 teens — and its contract has been extended until at least Dec. 31 … Pregnant teens, and teens requiring behavioral medication, are not allowed — ‘we’re too big, too high-profile,’ the incident commander explained.”

“Within the pages of the more than 6,000 court documents the Guardian examined there is a striking omission: the fact that many migrants were traveling with children at the time of their arrests was recorded in only 10 of the 3,121 cases we examined.”

A federal judge signed a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration from ending Temporary Protected Status for 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. Judge Chen cited “racial bias as a possible factor in the Trump administration’s decision to terminate TPS.”

“16 and 17 year-olds in New York State will no longer automatically be charged as adults in criminal courts.”
New York’s Raise the Age law went into effect this month. A closed residential facility for girls reopened in Cayuga County in response to the new law. The facility, preposterously named after U.S. hero Harriet Tubman who freed people from enslavement, is “surrounded by a 12-foot-tall chain link fence [that is] alarmed and topped with razor wire.” Before it was slated to be used, again, to incarcerate young people, the town had considered using the space as a community center, park, or athletic complex.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed multiple juvenile justice bills into law, including a bill preventing children under 16 from entering the adult system – the first state in the nation to do so. Other bills require counties to address arrests of children under 12 outside of the juvenile justice system; “guarantee access to the internet for foster youth in group homes, as well as youth in secure facilities”; and set limits on the length of time youth deemed ‘mentally incompetent’ can be held in juvenile hall.

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved a motion ending the practice of collecting fees for juvenile detention from youth, their families or guardians, “effectively erasing nearly $90 million worth of debt held by juvenile offenders, their parents and their guardians across 52,000 accounts.”

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act may be reauthorized this year – but without eliminating the Valid Court Order exception. Keeping the VCO exception will allow girls to continue getting locked up for predominantly nonviolent offenses: in 2015, status offenses and technical violations constituted the most serious charges for more than one in three girls in placement.

A new report from the Sunlight Foundation looks at changes OJJDP made to their website, including removing a page with information on girls in the juvenile justice system and on eliminating solitary confinement for youth: “The term ‘justice-involved youth,’ widely used to describe young people in the criminal justice system, has been replaced with the term ‘offenders,’ which advocates regard as stigmatizing. Similarly, the office’s ‘Vision Statement’ on the ‘Vision and Mission’ page used to declare that it ‘envisions a nation where our children are healthy, educated, and free from crime and violence.’ The newest version has excised the phrase ‘healthy and educated.’”

Kelli Steinbuck reviews the book Girls & Juvenile Justice: Power, Status, and the Social Construction of Delinquency: “Ultimately, Davis brings to light a system that does little for the girls but attempt to police their morals.”

A year after #MeToo went viral online, Tarana Burke discussed the history of the decade-old movement she launched, and joined sixteen-year-old Angelina Cofer as part of the “Keeping Black Girls at the Center of #MeToo” town hall organized by A Long Walk Home in Chicago. Cofer: “The public discussion of #MeToo is “dominated by a lot of white women, and it’s good that they’re sharing their stories. But I would like to see more color in the movement that was created for us.” Burke told the audience, “this is by us and for us.”

Burke spoke to the New York Times about the future of metoo.: “We don’t believe in collecting stories of people’s trauma because I don’t think the trauma should be curated. We believe in sharing peoples’ stories of healing.”

Nineteen-year-old actress Amandla Stenberg writes on her experience with sexual assault: “When people come forward with stories of their assaults, they are often met with ‘Why didn’t you speak out sooner?’…As if, amid trauma, we would want to reaffirm these events and make them even more tangible, real, and dangerous.”

And queer youth spoke to Rewire.News about the absence of resources and narratives specific to sexual assault and dating violence in their relationships.

Leading the Work
new report features policy recommendations made by DC’s Young Women’s Advisory Council and Young Women’s Initiative Working Groups. Recommendations include tapping into the leadership potential of young women of color by engaging them in decision-making processes: “During issue caucuses and facilitated conversations, young women of color expressed their interest in learning more about opportunities to make their opinion count. At the same time, the YWI survey found that only 30 percent of young women think government is open to their ideas and solutions on how to improve their neighborhoods.”

The first Oregon gubernatorial debate featured questions exclusively from young folks ages 12 to 19, including questions about preventing youth suicide and bullying of LGBTQ youth.

Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani discusses the many girl and young-women activists paving the way for social and political reform in an op-ed for the New York Times.

School Safety
In Virginia, a transgender middle school student was separated from her peersduring an active shooter drill because school officials could not decide which bathroom or locker room she should use to shelter in place with the rest of her classmates: “During an event that prepares children to survive an attack by actual assailants, she was treated as if she was so much of a danger to peers that she was left exposed and vulnerable.”

GLSEN released their 2017 National School Climate Survey looking at the experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools. Among the findings: 59.5% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 44.6% because of their gender expression, and 35.0% because of their gender; Nearly a fifth (18.0%) of LGBTQ students reported having ever changed schools due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school; 42.1% of transgender and gender nonconforming students had been prevented from using their preferred name or pronoun; and only 6.7% of students reported receiving LGBTQ-inclusive sex education.

“If ICWA is struck down, it’s not a distant legal argument for all of Federal Indian Law to be declared unconstitutional.” 
A federal judge in Texas declared the Indian Child Welfare Act unconstitutional. The 40-year-old law was created to keep Native American families together, passed at a time when many children were taken from their families and reservations to be placed with white families. Sarah Kastelic, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, fears a return to “a pre-ICWA environment where Native children and families are removed in even larger numbers than they are now, with even fewer protections and little recourse for them or their families.”

Finding Home: A Foster Youth Story, a documentary about youth transitioning out of foster care, will premiere on November 1 on PBS.


The Coalition for Juvenile Justice is accepting applications for its Emerging Leaders Committee. Applications are due by November 6, 2018.

Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships is accepting applications for its Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy: Ending Violence & Abuse in Relationships. Applications are due by November 9, 2018.

Public Welfare Foundation is hiring a Criminal Justice Program Director.





“I think there are a number of local community based organizations providing programming and services for girls. And of course, schools. However, I think DC tends to focus most of its efforts on boys of color in the District. Too often new programs, funding opportunities, etc. ignore that nearly 50% of the DC youth population are facing many of the same struggles as DC’s boys of color.”

Source: Young Women’s Initiative survey respondent in A Blueprint for Action: Supporting Young Women of Color in the District of Columbia

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