Re-entry program for juvenile offenders faces budget crunch

  • Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles wouldn't face layoffs under a new state budget crunch that affects the state department that runs the facility.

      Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles wouldn't face layoffs under a new state budget crunch that affects the state department that runs the facility. LAURA STOECKER | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/13/2015 5:28 PM

A budget shortfall in the program that helps juvenile offenders re-enter the community is the latest addition to Illinois' list of urgent financial troubles.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office says the money the state needs to run the Department of Juvenile Justice's Aftercare program will run out at the end of March. The program helps youth find jobs and housing after being released from a facility.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The agency's spokeswoman, Veronica Vera, says layoffs at youth centers including the ones in St. Charles and Warrenville aren't in the works and Rauner's administration hopes to shift money around to avoid an interruption in the program.

"This program needs an additional $5.3 million to help rehabilitate kids in the criminal justice system so they don't go back as adults," Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said.

The program joins a growing list of state budget crises created by the spending plan approved by Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn last year. It's separate from the budget plan proposed by Rauner, which would take effect in July.

Also on the list: A program that helps low-income families pay for day care has already run out of state money. And Illinois will run out of money to pay the salaries for guards and some prisons soon.

At the end of March, the account that pays for court reporters in courthouses across the state will dry up, too.

Rauner and top Democrats are working on a plan that would let the new governor move money around to try to plug some of those holes. A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan said a vote could come next week, but nothing is finalized.

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