The Cook County Bar Association objects to cuts proposed by Governor Bruce Rauner to funding of services for “youth” in foster care Age 18-24

The Cook County Bar Association (CCBA), the oldest association of African-American judges and lawyers in the nation, objects to the proposed cuts to the funding for “youth” in foster care in the State of Illinois between the ages of 18-24. Governor Bruce Rauner stresses that these cuts “reflect difficult but necessary choices” in what he called a “turnaround budget” crafted to address the State's financial problems.

However, removing the funding for Illinois youth in foster care seeking a higher education at our public universities and other support services ultimately will not move our state forward. For without the tools and financial support from the State of Illinois, these “older” foster care youth are more likely to be homeless, unemployed, and the next generation of the incarcerated.

CCBA members volunteer with the Illinois Judicial Council (IJC), the oldest association of predominately African-American judges in the State of Illinois, as part of the IJC “SAVE-OUR-YOUTH” PROJECT, which provides a CCBA lawyer and an IJC Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County to mentor the “older” youth who have not been adopted and are still in foster care. We are committed to devoting some of our time, talents, and treasure to help these youth who have been previously neglected, and to reminding them that they are not forgotten.

Due to changes in Illinois law, the Circuit Court of Cook County - Juvenile Court - Child Protection Division and the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services have focused on “wrap around” services that have resulted in more children being kept in the home and more support for extended family who agree to raise the youth. Today, the Illinois child protection system is considered a model for reform in our country.

CCBA stands with the “older” foster children who need assistance with completing college and other support services as they embark on adulthood. We ask Governor Rauner to reconsider his decision and to stand with and support these young people through his budget priorities. The funds offered to the “older” foster youth from the State of Illinois are an investment. The youth will repay the State as better-adjusted, employed, and caring adults who contribute not only as taxpayers but also as stronger citizens of our State. ■


The views expressed in this article are those of the Cook County Bar Association and do not necessarily represent the views of the Illinois State Bar Association.

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May 2015Volume 25Number 1PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)