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Community-based program that keeps youth out of jail might come to the Quad Cities

(KWQC)
Published: Oct. 30, 2019 at 7:15 PM CDT
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A Chicago-based program that works with high risk youth might be coming to the Quad Cities. “Youth Advocate programs” focuses on community-based care to keep young people from going in and out of jail.

Program staff members say anything that can be done in an institution can be done in the community. TV6’s Rebecca David went to Chicago because the Scott County jail currently houses high risk youth. Due to lack of space, these young people are being sent to other facilities.

The hope is that a program like this could keep them in our community and out of jail or detention.

The population of Chicago, Illinois, might be bigger than the Quad Cities, but this city is dealing with some of the same problems as the Quad Cities: youth committing crimes.

24-year-old Jacques Patterson knows what's like to live in the streets of Chicago’s Westside.

“I was just in the streets selling drugs. Getting locked up left to right,” said Jacques Patterson, who went through the program.

Jail became too familiar for him and his education started to slip.

“I didn't have anybody to tell me. Oh yeah, you need to go to school, you need to stay in school, do this, get good grades none of that,” Patterson said. “I was always in the streets, I was just thinking about getting me some money off the streets,”

That changed when he met Marlon Rucker. A mentor with Youth advocate programs. Through the Youth Justice program. Rucker became the support system Jacques was looking for.

“As long as you continue to encourage, push, motivate, and never give up on a kid. Then 9 out of 10 there's some great outcome,” said Marlon Rucker, a Mentor for Youth Advocate Programs.

The organization uses community-based care to work with youth and their families. Youth Advocates Programs or YAP has a no refuse policy, meets youth from within their home, school and community. It also provides intensive frequent weekly face-to-face contact as well as work with youth and their entire family. A partnership that Jacques’s mother is thankful for. At a time when she was struggling financially and trying to do the best she could for her son.

“They helped him, they molded him into the man that he is to this day, said Tanika Humphries, mother of Jacques.

Proving that it takes a village to raise a child.

“You can raise your kid to the best of your ability. Everything done right, but they still turn out how they want to turn out,” said Humphries.

He turned out to be a man that has turned his story into an inspiration. Speaking to leaders in the Quad Cities about a program that he says made a difference for him.

“The program was a big help because without them I think I would be in jail or dead somewhere,” said Patterson.

The goal is to show that you can take someone's challenges and turn them into a strength

“I got him a job that teaches him how to do sales skills. Since you want to sell drugs, I can get you into a program or put you into some kind of certification that could help with what you are trying to do,” said Rucker.

“I felt like there was nothing that could help me in life. I was always going to keep selling drugs. They showed me something better than selling drugs. I actually look at YAP like a family, a second family,” said Patterson.

A second family that gave him direction for a better future.

Youth Advocate Programs has been around for over 40 years. They have more than 100 programs across 28 states and the District of Columbia. YAP tracks outcomes for youth. By the time services end 83.4 % were not arrested while in the program. 90.4% were living in the community at time of discharge and 85% graduated or were attending school.

Right now a draft proposal of a program that could be implemented in the Quad Cities is in the works. Officials also plan to visit Chicago in December to learn more about all the services YAP offers. Just recently, YAP was named a "promising practice" by the Justice Department.