Juvenile Law Center

Pursuing justiceA Juvenile law center Blog

May 30, 2012

Shackling Youth, Strip-Searching Adults: PA Legislature Leans Forward While U.S. Supreme Court Leans Backwards

posted by Juvenile Law Center

Pennsylvania just took a giant step forward with respect to its treatment of youth in the juvenile justice system while the United States Supreme Court recently took a giant step backwards in declaring the strip searching of adultsarrested and detained for even the most minor offensesa valid practice under our Constitution. 

In Pennsylvania, one of the last pieces of legislative reform emerging from the Luzerne County juvenile court judges' scandal fell into place this week. Governor Tom Corbett signed Senate Bill 817 into law, prohibiting the shackling of children in juvenile court unless there are extreme or exceptional circumstances. The law, sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker, reinforces a juvenile court rule adopted last year by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court. The law and rules give Pennsylvania youth two layers of protection against what is nothing more than state-inflicted trauma. 

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice
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May 30, 2012

Guest Blog: "Don't Push Us Out, Stand Up For Us"

posted by Breonia, former foster youth

I did not age out of foster care. I was pushed out, and too many kids are pushed out of foster care each year before they are ready. Without a real plan and support, I have struggled. As a young woman who spent many years in foster care, I am used to facing challenges, but I think the child welfare system could do much more to help us face the challenges involved in becoming an adult. Rather than pushing us out, I wish the child welfare system and those who run it would stand up for us, fight for us. 

Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care
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May 22, 2012

Guest Blog: "When I Turn 18, I'm Requesting To Stay In Foster Care Until Age 21"

posted by Megan H., foster youth, Philadelphia

My name is Megan. I'm a 17-year-old senior in high school. I entered foster care at the age of seven. My mother was a drug abuser and I didn't know my father so I was placed in the custody of the child welfare agency. Since 2002, I've been placed in multiple foster homes and one kinship care home. Most of the foster homes that I've been in didn't have positive outcomes. I lived with my oldest sister twice. Moving constantly affected my education and schooling. When I was being moved I lost credits in one of my classes, so I had to retake a 10th grade class in 12th grade. I've been enrolled in nine different schools.

Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care|Extended Care and Reentry (Foster Care)|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)
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May 17, 2012

Guest Blog: "Demand More—Demand a Home"

posted by Chris N., former foster youth, Montgomery County, PA

My name is Christopher, I am 21 years old, and I have never had a home. I do have your attention now, though, which seems to be a pale compromise for the first sentence. In 21 years I have lived in 13 different places, seven of which were during my stay in care. According to my current landlord, "Permanent Residence" is established by things like living in a place for two or more weeks and receiving mail at that location. I've had 13 of those, and when I sat down to type this I realized that this is precisely how I define home. It's not for the comfort level and certainly not for the people in it, but whether I've managed to be there for more than two weeks and can receive mail. 

I don't think I've had a real home in my entire life.

Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care|Fostering Connections|Permanency (Foster Care)|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)
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May 15, 2012

Guest Blog: "I Became a Foster Kid At 8, And Was Expected To Not Be One Anymore at 21"

posted by Barb, former foster youth, Adams County, PA

Love: unconditional, real, enduring, forgiving, forever, always, accepting. 

Maybe I love easily, and maybe I collect people. This is probably because I know what it is like to have no one. I know one thing's for sure: being a product of the system has expanded my scope of what family means. It has also twisted and made more elusive the word we all know: love. You see, I became a foster kid at the age of eight, and was expected to not be a foster kid anymore at the age of 21. I lucked out though; so often, the stories of youth aging out of foster care end with them connectionless and transient. They have nobody to look after them. I asked someone the other day, "How do we as a system not check up on someone who lived in our care for any period of time, not to mention those who have grown up in foster care for the majority of their childhood?" We have to start recognizing that even though we fight hard to not be a foster child's parent, who else are they going to call? Who else has been there for them?

Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care|Extended Care and Reentry (Foster Care)|Normalcy for Foster Youth|Permanency (Foster Care)|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)
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