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March 25, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today announced that the Illinois Department of Human Services has awarded $3.2 million in grants to community-based programs that are fighting juvenile delinquency, part of the "Futures For Kids" initiative.

Forty-four community-based agencies will receive "Communities for Youth" grants for prevention, intervention and diversion services for youth who are involved in or at-risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system.

"The 'Communities for Youth' program will help bridge the gap between communities and the juvenile justice system and provide important services to help young people reach their full potential," Mrs. Ryan said.

Initiatives like "Communities for Youth" will be coordinated through a comprehensive prevention program called "Futures for Kids" that will be chaired by the First Lady. The primary goal of Futures For Kids is to significantly reduce juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and violence among Illinois youth. Futures for Kids will work with organizations to help establish goals and benchmarks to help them provide the best assistance to troubled youth.

"There are many community groups and state agencies working toward the same goal, but in many cases they do not know what the others are doing," Mrs. Ryan said. "Futures For Kids will help these organizations coordinate their efforts and will be able to reach out to youths who might be overlooked."

The organizations funded through 'Communities for Youth' will help communities develop a continuum of services for at-risk youth and those already involved in the criminal justice system. Local agencies will work in cooperation with local police departments, probation departments and State's Attorney's Offices.

The Juvenile Justice Forum provided important input on the development of this initiative. The Forum is composed representatives from state agencies related to criminal justice and from not-for-profit agencies. The Forum's mission is to coordinate public and private efforts in implementing the Juvenile Justice Reform Act.

"The collaborative efforts of 'Communities for Youth' will enable the state to reach a vulnerable population and break the cycle of juvenile crime that devastates families and communities in many urban areas of the state," said DHS Secretary Howard A. Peters III.

The Juvenile Justice Reform Law, which became effective January 1, 1999 emphasizes community involvement and is intended to place equal value on the victims needs, offenders needs and public safety.


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