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updated: 7/7/2011 4:50 PM

Deal would benefit youth and taxpayers

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I read with some consternation a "letter" submitted by Jim Sather of Geneva titled "Troubled youth not a priority for the county." The letter addresses an ongoing discussion wherein DuPage County is considering entering a cooperative agreement with Kane County to house the 20 to 25 youth detainees currently housed in the DuPage Youth Detention Center daily.

First, Mr. Sather is uninformed. The suggestion that "no one cares" about the kids in detention is ridiculous. The reason this is being considered in the first place is that DuPage has made tremendous strides in lowering the detainee population through a number of county-funded diversion programs designed to help keep kids out of detention in the first place. The DuPage facility was built to house about 90 detainees, but the success of these programs has reduced the daily population to around 24.

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Second, I met for hours with the staff of both the DuPage and Kane facilities, and the overseers of their programs, and toured both facilities. Most critics of the proposal have not. If I felt Kane's facility and programs were inferior to those in DuPage, and this move would harm these kids, this discussion would not have gone anywhere. I encourage those with concerns to tour both facilities, talk to the administrators of both as I did, and then make an informed decision.

Finally, this move would save the county at least $400,000 each year. The taxpayers have no more money to give. The money saved through this proposal could do good elsewhere, while we work to ensure at-risk youths of both Kane and DuPage counties have top-notch facilities and services available to them.

It's past time we stopped substituting "what about the children?" for a rational discussion of how we spend taxpayer dollars.

Bob Larsen

DuPage County Board member

Wheaton

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