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Assessment Centers and Centers of Care as Alternatives to Youth Incarceration in Cook County, IL

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $450,000)

The Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) in Chicago, Illinois, is the largest youth pre-adjudication detention center in the United States. Cook County leaders have committed to a long-term plan of building and staffing Assessment Centers and Community Centers of Care, as alternatives to detention. Assessment Centers are a single point of contact to identify underlying issues contributing to a young person’s behavior and partners with youth and families to access individualized services and resources. Cook County leaders have committed to fund one or more assessment centers through contracts with community providers and to build or lease facilities that would be staffed by county employees beginning in 2025. In addition, Cook County will build on Juvenile Probation’s current continuum of care model to create “Community Centers of Care” as alternatives to incarceration at the JTDC. It is anticipated that these facilities will be located on the north, west, and south sides of Chicago and/or in the suburbs, and that at least one of the facilities will meet Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice standards for a secure facility. Others will be “staff secure”, i.e., having protocols in place for children to be unable to leave on their own, but with unlocked doors and some supervised activities outside the building. Cook County leaders have committed to fund community organizations to operate Centers of Care by the end of fiscal year 2024, and to design permanent, county operated centers after 2024. The project proposed will support this commitment through funding of a project director, community forums and training. The initiative will support four specific goals: 1) Implement a multi-agency planning and governance structure that will be inclusive of youth, families, and those with lived experience to oversee design and implementation activities; 2) Host a series of community forums to gain input on the needs of impacted communities; 3) Retrain JTDC staff who wish to work at alternative centers, as well as staff of community-based partners; 4) Based on the planning process and youth and community input, establish Assessment Centers and Centers of Care as alternatives to detention.

Date Created: February 16, 2024