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Mixing facts with rumors

Monday, November 28, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
by John H. Stroger Jr.
Letter to the Editor

The recent article ''Sister of Stroger ally gets juvy home post'' [Nov. 17] is a disservice to your readers, for it contains erroneous, rumor-based information that completely overlooks the substantive improvements that are being made at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

In mid-September, Cook County accepted an offer from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to assist in its efforts to improve conditions at the center. Specifically, the foundation -- a well-respected national organization specializing in juvenile justice reform -- will lend its extensive resources, networks and expertise to help assess and address conditions of confinement problems. Transparency is of paramount importance, and the county has agreed to provide the foundation with the support they need to conduct an accurate assessment of every facet of the facility. This includes a thorough evaluation of all personnel.

In preparing for this top-to-bottom review, it was agreed that there is a need for new curriculums, in-service training and program development to ensure that all staff who come in contact with juveniles interact with the children in an appropriate manner. [Maria Griselda Moreno] Szafarczyk has more than three decades of experience in program evaluation, curriculum development and student support services for at-risk and multicultural youth populations.

Szafarczyk's expertise in vocational training, as director of planning for the West Side Technical Institute, is a clear asset given that remedial education is one of the core missions of the center. In addition, as the article correctly notes, I do believe that an increased bilingual presence at the center is important to help better identify children who may need more specialized remedial help and to better train staff in dealing with cultural differences within the juvenile population.

My administration is serious about implementing improvements at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

But to simply focus on rumors only minimizes the hard work that is under way to ensure that our children get the rehabilitative programs and skills they need to get back on track, stay out of the criminal justice system and become productive members of society.

John H. Stroger Jr.,
Cook County Board of Commissioners

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