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October 21, 1999

Governor Ryan And First Lady Name Futures For Kids Advisory Panel; Award DHS Grants Totaling $17 Million

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan and Illinois First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today announced the formation of an advisory panel to work with her "Futures for Kids" initiative.

The First Lady made the announcement during a grant presentation with the Illinois Department of Human Services to provide an additional $4 million for the Teen REACH after-school program and $13.2 million for quality enhancement grants.

"Through Teen Reach, we can give youth today a chance to engage in wholesome activities, and offer them a better opportunity to succeed in life - a better "future for kids," Mrs. Ryan said. "One of the many reasons that this program is so important is because the peak hours of juvenile crime occur between the after-school hours of 3 to 8:00 p.m."

"Last spring, Lura Lynn and I joined community leaders at the James Major Adams Academy on the West Side of Chicago to announce our plan to coordinate programs designed to save children from drugs and violence and help them and their parents," the Governor said.

"We also committed to increase funding for programs and research and to tap into the state's experts for their leadership."

"Futures for Kids" is an umbrella for programs and policies that make a significant difference in the lives of Illinois' children. As part of this program, Teen REACH (Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring and Hope) increases academic success while reducing risk-taking behaviors such as substance abuse, criminal activities and premature sexual behavior.

Services available through the Teen REACH program include academic assistance, recreation and sports, cultural and artistic activities, life skills education and employment skills training.

"When we initiated the Teen REACH program, we focused on children ages 10 to 17 years old because this is a critical time in a child's life -- the time when children start to make decisions that could potentially affect them for the rest of their lives," DHS Secretary Howard A. Peters III said. "We now recognize the fact that younger children can benefit from the services offered by this program as well. This $4 million will help to expand services to include children ages 6 through 9 years."

Teen REACH activities are closely linked to the DHS School Attendance Initiative, Project Success, Teen Parent Services, mental health and substance abuse treatment services, primary health care and other DHS programs and services.

The statewide Teen REACH initiative began in June 1998 with $7.4 million in DHS funding provided to community-based groups in 31 of the state's neediest communities. The program has grown to an $18.5 million program serving 121 sites statewide during the Ryan administration.

The Futures for Kids advisory panel will consist of leaders from business, government, and education research and children's advocacy groups. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Vice President Bob Keikheffer will serve as vice-chair of the panel.

"Today, some of the best and brightest and most concerned citizens will join us in developing the statewide agenda to help children grow up into healthy, responsible and successful adults, " said Mrs. Ryan. "I am heartened that we have attracted experts from every sector to help our children."

Governor Ryan also announced funding of $13.2 million to improve the quality of the state's childcare program for low-income working parents. In addition under the enhanced quality childcare program, 330 childcare providers will receive quality enhancement grants.

"The grants, ranging from $20,000 to $60,000, will help child care programs educate and train their care givers, purchase equipment, upgrade literacy programs and improve programs for children and parents," the Governor said.

Child care funds are being awarded to licensed and license-exempt child care centers and networks of child care homes, Community Resource and Referral agencies and other non-profit entities involved with child care. The grants will improve quality for all children participating in funded childcare programs, regardless of income.

The state's child care program serves working Illinois families whose incomes fall below 50 percent of the state median income, teen parents in high school and those participating in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) education and training programs. Funding for state-subsidized child care in Fiscal Year 2000 totals $477 million and will support more than 157,000 children.

Mrs. Ryan noted that the role of the advisory panel is to audit existing state government programs such as Teen Reach and the quality enhancement programs to ensure they are being effective and efficient.


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