I am grossly disappointed in President Obama’s decision to table the announcement of his presidential library site until after Chicago’s mayoral runoff election. If Obama’s loyalty lies with the people of Illinois, particularly the people of Chicago, where he launched his political career, why is he waiting until after the runoff? Since he endorsed Mayor Emanuel, it makes one wonder if the selection of a Chicago site for his library is contingent upon the re-election of Emanuel. I hope and pray I am wrong because, if not, I will lose much respect for President Obama.
Donald Giddens, South Shore
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Better cameras than taxes
Though we would all like to get rid of red-light cameras and lower property taxes, in the real world of Chicago this is not going to happen. Given a choice, I’ll take the red-light cameras. I can choose to go through a red light or speed in designated areas, but I cannot choose to not pay real estate taxes. I think these designated lower speed areas should have flashing lights to call our attention to the lower speed. If I am in an unfamiliar neighborhood, I might not realize I am going past a park or a school as I am concentrating on where I need to go. A flashing light would get my attention.Judy McDermott, Norwood Park
Cuts to DCFS endanger young people
The state of Illinois has a legal and ethical obligation to support and protect vulnerable at-risk youth who are under their care because the state has removed them from abusive or traumatic homes. Therefore, the proposal to reduce the Department of Children and Family Services budget by nearly 13 percent is counterproductive and will have an immediate and lasting negative impact on the mostly African-American and Hispanic wards of the state who will be harmed.
UCAN opposes the plan to eliminate services for 18-21 year-old DCFS wards and requests that DCFS funding remain level from the past fiscal year.
The road to balancing the state budget should not be paved on the backs of Illinois’ most vulnerable youth. Adults have a responsibility to at-risk youth in their care to help them break the cycles of abuse and trauma, and to involve their families to address the issues that led to the abuse.
Effective July 1, the proposed budget will eliminate funding for 2,400 DCFS wards ages 18 through 21 who are parents to 372 children and who are on a path to independence as they work to avoid poverty, homelessness, lack of education and joblessness. Upon their 18th birthday, the budget would eliminate: support for pregnant and parenting teens; educational and housing support; mental health counseling; therapeutic services; and vocational training and scholarships.
Eliminating these services will cause great hardship for the 955 wards served by UCAN:
· 75 percent of the wards are African-American
- Nearly 7 percent are Latino
- 79 percent are female
- 79 percent of the children whose parents would lose services are under age 3
Extending foster care beyond age 18 does promote education: Former foster youth from Illinois who emancipated at age 21 are nearly twice as likely to have attended college and more than twice as likely to have completed at least one year of college as their peers in Iowa and Wisconsin who emancipated at age 18. As a matter of fact, in the last five years, 1,265 young parents were emancipated from DCFS care. Of those, an impressive 56 percent earned a high school diploma or GED after age 18. Out of those who earned a diploma, 37 percent were pursuing a post-secondary education at the time of their emancipation.
Moreover, it costs society $292,000 for each youth age 18-21 who does not finish high school.
UCAN requests that the Illinois General Assembly vote to restore funding for services that are critically needed by 18-21 year-old DCFS wards. We join our fellow youth services agencies across in Illinois in requesting that the welfare of the state’s at-risk youth and older adolescent population be given the top priority it deserves.
We believe that youth who have suffered trauma can become our future leaders. It is critical that our elected officials share our concern and commitment.
Thomas Vanden Berk