New Human Trafficking Outreach, Awareness Campaign Launched: Gov. Jan Brewer (R) launches a campaign to raise public awareness about youth sex trafficking. The campaign, End Sex Trafficking AZ, will offer information on how to report tips to law enforcement and will announce opportunities to help victims. The launch of the campaign coincides with the release of a new study on the occurrence of sex trafficking, which found that nearly one in every four homeless Arizona youth had experienced some form of sexual victimization.
Efforts Improve Youth Mental Health System: Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) rolls out an initiative to increase access to the state’s mental health system for children and families. The initiative will work to increase the capacity of existing mental health facilities, station emergency mobile psychiatric services staff in relevant departments, and create specialized services for children with autism spectrum disorder. In addition, community-based mental health services will be provided to reduce child hospitalization rates.
Markell Expands Addiction Treatment, School Services: Gov. Jack Markell (D) expands the state’s addiction treatment services. About $50,000 will allow the Delaware Division of Public Health to work closely with Delaware elementary and secondary school nurses to expand the “Smart Moves, Smart Choices” prescription drug abuse education and prevention campaign statewide. The state also launched a website and public awareness campaign focused on prevention, treatment and recovery. The initiative also includes the construction of a second center to treat drug, alcohol, and other substance addiction. The state plans to provide more individualized treatment services at both the existing and new centers.
Partnership Promotes K-12 Education/Energy Program: Gov. Mike Pence (R) announces a new public-private partnership to promote K-12 education and job training in the energy sector. The partnership, called the Energy Academy, is a collaboration between a utility provider and a county career and technical education program. The Energy Academy aims to introduce students to skills and job opportunities in the utility and energy sector, in conjunction with the governor’s efforts to support postsecondary options for students. The academy also supports collaboration between industry and education programs to better match classroom skills with market demand.
Bullock Expands Access to High-Quality Early Education: Gov. Steve Bullock (D) launches an initiative to increase access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs. The proposal, known as Early Edge Montana, provides block grants to public school districts to create or expand access to early education. Programs will be required to meet high-quality standards, including a 1:10 teacher-student ratio and a developmentally appropriate curriculum.
New Protections Offered for Youth Human Trafficking Victims: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signs a measure increasing privacy protections for victims of human trafficking to help them rebuild their lives. The law seals 16- and 17-year-old victims’ records as a way to prevent future employment discrimination—an exemption can be granted if the information is needed in a prosecutorial case against the victim’s trafficker. Additionally, the law reclassifies 16- and 17-year-old victims as sexually exploited children rather than adults, automatically granting them youth offender status to prevent them from acquiring a criminal record. Their cases are also designated as “persons in need of services,” rather than criminal.
$4M Goes for Education Initiatives: Gov. Tom Corbett (R) sets aside $4 million in grant funding for two initiatives, one to increase access to health and science programs and another to promote college and community partnerships. The first will allow Mt. Aloysius College in central Pennsylvania to add lecture space and laboratories for health and science programs. The second will help Allegheny College in northwestern Pennsylvania collaborate with community partners and redevelop area properties.
Auditor Critical of $200M School Development Program: State Auditor John Keel criticizes an economic development program run by Texas school districts, saying they’re being passive about checking whether companies actually are creating high-paying jobs as promised. Districts are giving away more than $200 million a year in property tax breaks without confirming if the businesses are creating the pledged jobs. Keel analyzed four school districts’ practices in his audit and found inconsistent reporting of information on amounts invested and jobs spun off.
$300K Goes for Youth Education Programs: Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) releases $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Local Innovation funding for the Virginia’s Growth Alliance. It is a regional collaboration made up of 10 counties and one city in the Southern Virginia region. The grant will be used to develop several new programs for youth, new businesses and established businesses. This project will offer several different educational, mentoring and monetary programs including a pilot youth educational program involving both online and classroom education.
Less Than Half of Schools Meet State Goals: Data released under an education accountability system shows less than half of West Virginia public schools are meeting goals for both student learning and improvement. The state Department of Education released the 2013-14 data. Schools were evaluated by proficiency tests, student growth measures, achievement gap calculations and factors such as attendance and graduation rates. The report says 119 of 650 schools met both the learning and growth performance goals for all students, while 180 schools met one of the goals. The department says considerably more schools didn’t meet their targets because the goals had increased from the previous year.