(Chicago) – Earth, Wind, and Fire’s Shining Star greeted youth and family members at a celebration of the Juvenile Justice Collaborative (JJC) at TASC’s Clinton Street office on June 21.
"Look at all the people gathered here to celebrate you, because you are somebody. You are a shining star,” said Rodney Walker, director of Youth and Family Services, speaking to teens who recently completed participation in JJC services.
Convened by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the JJC helps minimize adolescents’ further involvement in the justice system by facilitating their access to comprehensive support
services. 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.
Rebecca Levin, executive director of Lurie Children’s Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY), thanked both participants and their families for how hard they worked for their success. "The JJC may have helped get you connected to programs, but it's the grit and determination of you and your families that brought you here tonight."
The value of the program is evidenced not only in its outcomes, but especially in participants’ perspectives.
"Before I started, I kind of wanted to give up my education, but the group motivated me to stay in school and do what I needed to do,” offered one youth.
"The program really helped me a lot... I'm doing really good in school now,” echoed another.
Amanda Halawa-Madhi, deputy chief probation officer for the Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department, spoke of the partnerships that make the JJC successful, adding, “I am especially thankful to the youth and families who trusted in this process to engage with the collaborative.”
Maryam Ahmad, chief of the Juvenile Justice Bureau for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, spoke to youth about having faith in themselves and working hard not only for themselves, but also for the community and other youth who follow. "Everything you need to be successful is within you... Be committed, fearless, and determined,” she encouraged participants.
TASC care coordinators at the event, led by TASC Clinical Supervisor Breanna Hollie-Hiatt, presented achievement certificates to participants and expressed their thanks to participants and their families. Several youth passed along their encouragement to others.
Concluded one, "To all the youth here, including myself—you got this."
in 2017, the JJC has successfully reduced further youth involvement in the justice
system during the first year after program completion.
Along with Lurie Children’s and TASC, partners and service providers in the JJC include: Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center; BUILD, Inc.; Heartland Human Care Services; Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY); Lawrence Hall; Maryville Academy; New Life Centers of Chicagoland; SGA Youth & Family Services; UCAN; Youth Guidance; and Youth Outreach Services.
JJC partners at June 21, 2019 celebration (l. to r.): Maryam Ahmad, Cook County State's Attorney's Office; Amanda Halawa-Madhi, Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department; Rebecca Levin, Strengthening Chicago's Youth (SCY); Rodney Walker, TASC.
TASC JJC Team (l. to r.): Back row: Jeanette Perkins, Rona Clark, Anthony Harden, Yolanda Burgess, Felix Gatica, Rodney Walker; front row: Breanna Hollie-Hiatt, Jessica Fino.