Illinois' 1st Circuit Juvenile Justice Council held its inaugural symposium Tuesday at SIU.
The one-day event aimed to improve the juvenile justice system to give kids the help they need while deterring them from recidivism into adult court.
The 1st circuit juvenile justice system covers the southern 9 counties of Illinois.
Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds also serves as the council’s chair and helped to organize the event.
“We’ve brought a lot of people together and a lot of resources to southern Illinois to look at how our juvenile system is working well, and what we can do to improve it, and what services we might want to add in the future to help keep kids out of court and on the right path.”
Attendees heard presentations from experts across the state on evidence-based practices and trauma-informed approaches to help at risk youth.
CASA of Williamson County executive director Nannette Vaughan says when a youth reaches the age of 18 in their program, they’re no longer eligible for the services.
They’re trying to develop after care programs for those now adults who are still enduring the effects of trauma from their youth.
“We’re working towards that and DCFS is also working towards that as well as other private service agencies, making better attempts to try and provide better avenues and alternatives like secondary education or housing programs to help our aging out youth.”
Edmonds says it’s important for collaboration between all agencies to ensure the best outcome for those involved to reduce recidivism
“Things can go downhill and they could end up in felony court as soon as the turn 18.”