CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — The county is getting $500,000 to help young people who have a criminal history get jobs.
The government chose this area because of the criminal statistics of youth. The money comes from a federal grant and will assist the county in developing a program to help 188 at-risk youths get job- and education training.
The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission plans to partner with businesses to help these people transition into the workforce. People ages 18 – 24 who have gone through the justice system qualify for the program. The goal is to provide them with skills to get and keep jobs whether that be in trade, hospitality, construction and more.
Jeanette McMullen says, “I do know a few people who are in the criminal justice system, but I think they need a second chance to prove that they’re not as bad as you think. You can make a mistake one time and still not be the bad kid everybody thinks you are.”
Regional Planning Commission Officer Dalitso Sulamoyo says, “They’re not getting those jobs that pay a living wage, in part because of some of these barriers they might have because they’ve interacted with the justice system.”
The grant will last the county three years. Organizers will be working on outreach with local groups to find people who may be interested in the program. The county says anybody is qualified for it, other than those who committed sex crimes.
The county will be finalizing the plan for the program in the next three months. Leaders hope to start it before September.