(Chicago) – Youth who have completed services offered through the Lurie Children’s Juvenile Justice Collaborative (JJC) were lauded by parents and program partners at the JJC’s inaugural achievement celebration at TASC on November 16.
Launched in 2017 by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the JJC is a partnership between Lurie Children’s Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY), the Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department, Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC), Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY), and ten community-based service providers.
Alicia Osborne, director of operations for TASC, welcomed parents, program partners, and staff to the event, held at TASC’s Clinton Street location in Chicago. Addressing youth participants directly, she said, “To the honorees in the room… you matter, greatly, to all of us. Never, ever stop believing in yourself.”
The JJC helps young people steer their lives in a positive direction after they have been arrested for offenses such as getting in a fight at school, possessing drugs, or partaking in a theft. Through this multi-agency initiative, youth aged 12 to 18 have the opportunity to participate in comprehensive programs and services rather than be detained in the juvenile justice system. Through engagement in these programs, they learn skills such as managing emotions, developing healthy relationships, and discovering new skills and activities.
Rebecca Levin, executive director of SCY, praised participants for their achievements. “A doctor once told me, ‘People will either live up to your expectations, or people will live down to your expectations,’” she said. Recognizing the successes of the program graduates, she added, “You are proving that our expectations of you were right.”
Individuals are referred to the program by probation officers, and TASC care coordinators work with youth and their families to determine which services will be best for them, partnering with a network of organizations to offer free, individualized services and care.
“The stories that make the headlines aren’t the stories that represent the amazing things happening in this process,” said Avik Das, director of the Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department, to the program graduates. “We need to celebrate that and be champions of that. Your success keeps us going.”
“The hard work really came from you,” added Bill Pieroth, deputy chief probation officer for the Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department. “Thank you for your efforts and perseverance and staying with the program. We hope you can be role models for young people coming after you.”
A comprehensive array of partners has collaborated to support youth in their success. Along with the convening partners, JJC’s network of service providers includes Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center, BUILD, Inc., Heartland Human Care Services, Lawrence Hall, Maryville Academy, New Life Centers of Chicagoland, SGA Youth & Family Services, UCAN, Youth Guidance, and Youth Outreach Services.