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County Board votes to merge job-training programs with city

Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by John Byrne

Cook County commissioners voted Tuesday to combine job training programs with the City of Chicago in a bid to cut costs. A single not-for-profit organization would be created to administer all the job training in the county, rather than having separate offices run by county government and city government. The City Council will consider adopting a matching plan Wednesday. The county board also agreed to a contract to allow some children and teens to be placed in foster care if they have nowhere to go when they are set to be released from the county Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. The plan is to have two foster homes ready for boys ages 12 and 13, and six homes for girls age 12 to 17, according to Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Currently, children who don't have anywhere to move to sometimes have to remain in the detention center. "If what they need is simply transitional housing, it seems to me better to house them in a foster home than in a jail," said Preckwinkle, who has said she would eventually like to see the juvenile detention center closed entirely. Commissioners also created a transitional advisory board for the juvenile center, which Preckwinkle said she expects will provide guidance on how to return control of the detention center to Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans. There were so many problems at the detention center that in 2007 a federal judge appointed juvenile justice expert Earl Dunlap to run the facility. Also Tuesday, Commissioner Bridget Gainer, D-Chicago, introduced a plan to use $160,000 the county has collected in taxes on the sale of tickets to this summer's Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park to help fund summer jobs for youths. Gainer's plan will head to the county Finance Committee for further consideration. The county board's work came after they joined in the praise for Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy for his handling of the protests during the NATO summit. Commissioners gave McCarthy, who appeared at the meeting, a standing ovation after taking turns lauding him for his leadership during the event.

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