August, 18 2018

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Illinois Program for Troubled Youth Loses Funding

For a youth education program that services some of the area's most troubled teens - whose funding has been cut and which is at-risk for a doomsday-type closure Aug. 31 - new rays of hope may be shining down.

Georgia Blackstone, director of the Markham courthouse-based Educational Talent Search Second Chance program, said a new grant opportunity, along with some pending state legislation and an investigation into the program's grant denial last year, means there may be "a little light" at the end of the tunnel.

"It means there seems to be a little hope, that through some of this, something good will come out of it," Blackstone said.

About the Second Chance Program

The program operates classrooms and school-related programs for disadvantaged middle and high school students and offers classes to juvenile offenders in the Cook County Circuit Courthouse in Markham.

Blackstone has been asking both private and public agencies to help save the program for months. Without a new source of funding, it will have to close Aug. 31.

But recently, there have been three developments that show some promise.

First, the federal government launched a College Access Challenge Grant Program. This program allots $66 million - earmarked for programs that assist at-risk youth in getting to post-secondary education - annually to states, based on need.

Blackstone intends to apply for this grant and says she's optimistic she may get it for one or two years.

Second, Blackstone received notice that the Office of Inspector General is investigating possible errors made by the U.S. Department of Education when that agency denied her program's funding renewal application.

Third, there's an amendment circulating in the federal legislature that would allow so-called "Second Chance" programs to argue their grant denials in front of a judge.

According to reports, there have been other complaints around the country that the federal government may have inappropriately denied funding for these organizations.

These three developments may be long-term solutions for the program, Blackstone said. She said other attempts to find funding have been just "Band-Aid"-type solutions - smaller amounts of money that couldn't sustain the program for a full year.

Meanwhile, officials from the program are preparing to send a letter to current and past parents of students who were part of the program in Markham. This letter, Blackstone said, would urge parents to lobby their local leaders about the program's pending fate, and may include details about a rally for the program's survival that could occur some time in February.

Related Articles:
Canadian Wilderness Therapy Program Helps Troubled Teens
California Holds Classes for Parents of Troubled Youth 1/22/08
Wisconsin Committee Plans to Help Troubled Teens 10/22/08
Florida Lawmakers Find Mentors for Struggling Teens 1/18/08
Arizona Home for Troubled Teens Investigated 1/16/08
Pennsylvania Home offers Help for Troubled Teens 1/17/08
School for Troubled Teens Denied in Maryland 1/15/08
Montana Opens 1st of 7 Residential Treatment Centers for Meth Addiction 1/16/08
Retreat for Troubled Teens Planned in Kansas 1/28/08
Residential Treatment Center for Troubled Teens Denied in Idaho 8/17/07

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