September 03, 2015
Chicago, IL – Sheriff Tom Dart, flanked by families and providers, hosted a press conference this morning at the Cook County Jail where he called on leaders in Springfield to end cuts to afterschool opportunities and childcare assistance. The consequences of those cuts will become increasingly apparent as Chicago Public School kids head back to school on Tuesday.
“Public safety demands that parents and youth have the basic tools they need to be successful, productive, and responsible. State leaders can either choose kids and fund services for families and communities, or they can ask our first responders and criminal justice system to clean up their mess at far greater cost - both in tax dollars and lives,” said Sheriff Dart.
Providers who are being forced to deny support and care for youth urged their elected officials to choose revenue instead of cuts to kids.
Noel Chambers, Associate Director of Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, spoke at the press conference. He told of how approximately 7,000 youth previously served by Boys and Girls Clubs across the city who have been cut off from Teen REACH services. The state stopped funding the Teen REACH grant on July 1st. Chambers noted how the Boys & Girls Teen REACH program was valuable because it teaches teens to resist the temptation of gangs and drugs.
“Teen REACH teaches youth how to make positive choices,” said Chambers. “Our leaders in Springfield ought to know that leaving kids without safe and engaging options during what law enforcement dubs ‘prime time for juvenile crime’ is a poor choice. The right choice for our youth and communities is to choose revenue.”
Studies have found that participants in afterschool programs may be 30% less likely to participate in criminal activities than peers who do not attend programs
The YMCA of Metro Chicago has also been forced cut its Teen REACH services at multiple sites, including one down the street from the jail at the Rauner Family YMCA.
DaWana Williamson, their Senior Vice President of Youth Development, said those students are losing out on a proven academic supports. She noted that statewide data shows 98% of Teen REACH students were promoted to the next grade or graduated, 93% improved their grades, and 82% improved their homework completion. “Our leaders in Springfield must save this proven educational tool by choosing revenue. If they don’t act immediately, our kids and schools will fall behind,” said Williamson.
Albert Richardson, Director of Youth Services at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services, said childcare cuts instituted by Governor Rauner on July 1st will steer kids away from success and is already forcing parents to work less or quit their jobs altogether. “These are young children we’re talking about - kids 12 and younger - that are being robbed of the safety and support they deserve,” said Richardson. The cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) deny eligibility to 90% of working families that apply. Marillac St. Vincent has been forced to deny 80 parents since the cuts took effect July 1.
One of those parents is Sharron Newsom. She was unable to enroll her third grade son, Monchello, at Marillac St. Vincent in under CCAP despite earning income far below the poverty level. Not having affordable childcare limits the hours Sharron can work and she worries that she may lose her job due to her availability.
“I’m asking those in power to end these child care cuts. My child needs opportunities to learn and grow outside of home and school,” said Sharron. ““I need to continue working to provide for him.”
The Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) is a large and diverse coalition of approximately 200 organizations concerned about state budget and tax issues. It includes organizations that serve children, families, veterans, seniors and people with disabilities; education groups concerned about early learning, K-12 and higher education; labor unions; faith-based and civic organizations; and many others.
The individual organizations that belong to the RBC represent a diverse range of interests but are united by these three common principles: