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Scott County leaders and community members travel to Chicago to learn about program for at risk youth

Scott County leaders and community members meet with staff from Youth Advocate Programs
Scott County leaders and community members meet with staff from Youth Advocate Programs(KWQC)
Published: Dec. 18, 2019 at 6:47 PM CST
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Getting to the root of juvenile crime is a serious goal in the Quad Cities. City and county leaders are looking hard for answers to keeping kids on the right path. They may have found one solution in Chicago.

“Every child is worth saving, I don't care what their situation might be,” said Michael Guster, NAACP member.

Michael Guster wants a stop to juvenile crime. He believes locking-up kids is not the answer. He is one of the community members that joined Scott County leaders on a trip to Chicago last Friday to learn about alternative solutions.

“There’s a much need for a program to do an intervention to try and help the next generation of children,” he said.

Youth Advocate Programs or YAP is hoping to help. The nationally recognized, nonprofit organization aims to strengthen communities. If they come to Scott County, the goal is for them to work with 25 youth and their families. The program will provide an average of 12.5 hours per week of community-based wraparound advocacy for six months.

The organization would recruit mentors who live in the same communities as the youth they serve. The program will also be individualized to the youth and their families and include 24/7 crisis intervention support. Program staff members say they want to meet families where they are at.

“What do you need, how can we help, how can we work together as equal partners, and then later, how can we give back. When you ask families what do they need and you help develop a plan on what they say they need, that's really effective, said David Williams, Youth Advocate Programs Vice President of the Midwest Region.

The organization also prides itself on having a no-refusal policy.

“The key to the program is a never give up approach. So if a young person runs into a bump. We won't kick them out of the program. We have a no eject reject policy,” said Williams.

A policy that Michael Guster says is different and hopes it will make a difference.

“I think it will go a long way on cutting down on crime, it will go a long way on saving taxpayers dollars. It’s a program that's much needed in the Quad Cities,” said Guster.

Williams says he knows there are other programs already being implemented in Scott County. They don't want to take away from that, but rather work together to root out juvenile crime.

Right now, Scott County leaders are working on a budget for the program. They’ll present that to the Scott County Board of Supervisors to figure out where the funding would come from.