D. Heimpel

Daniel Heimpel's life as a journalist

Archive for November 2009

Social Worker Tuition and California Prisons

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In this blog on the Huffington Post, I question how wise it is to increase fees for students of social work when they are already paid very little for the extremely important job they do. Unfortunately students of social work at both UC Berkeley and UCLA will have to pay increased tuitions – one bad fiscal choice among many cropping up in this time of prolonged budgetary stress.

Just this week I visited L.A. County’s Department of Children and Family Services, where the Independent Living Division (ILP) has seen the $1.4 million it used to receive from the State for a stipend for emancipated foster youth completely cut from their budget.  Rhelda Shabazz, DCFS’ Emancipation Division Chief, was livid about what the cut would mean. She held out a sheet with the entire ILP budget of $13 million and pointed out how her department would make up the 10% loss. DCFS was being forced to cut stipends for former foster youth’s: tuition, books & supplies, exams, clothing, scholastic and vocational administrative fees, apartment and dorm security deposits and transportation. All the small, huge things that can make the difference between a motivated young person making it and that same young person not having a fair chance to.

And when young people don’t make it, it is not only them who pay with time spent in prison, on the streets or under a pervasive malaise; it us as a society who pays the monetary bill of that failure and the moral toll of knowing that we let it happen.

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Written by dheimpel

November 27, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Abominable Educational Expectations

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In this, my latest blog on the Huffington Post, I explore what we as a society have deemed as acceptable in terms of educational standards for not only foster kids but all kids. In the piece I mention a program to help foster youth in college.

There is also a very promising program going on in the Montebello and Pomona Unified School Districts in which social workers are placed in high schools to help foster youth better prepare for graduation and potentially college (only 2-3 percent of former foster youth ever graduate from a four year institution). The project, dubbed the First District Education Pilot Program, helped 18 youth graduate. Without the pilot 67% would not have been on track to graduate and 83% plan to enroll in a 2- or 4-year college, compared to 20% who enroll nationwide.

It is only a handful of young people. But a promising start.

Written by dheimpel

November 2, 2009 at 11:58 pm