The recent regime change in Illinois politics brought about significant policy reform in the past few months, and UCAN has been there every step of the way.
On the state level, UCAN continues to strengthen relationships with elected officials. Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Sen. Heather Steans, Department of Children and Family Services’ executives and the Department of Commerce and Economic Development, are just some of those who witnessed and supported efforts spearheaded by UCAN’s CEO/President Zack Schrantz and Vice President of External Affairs Claude Robinson who represented UCAN’s interests and positions. Here are some highlights:
- In fall 2018, UCAN hosted a town meeting with gubernatorial candidates B. Pritzker and Juliana Stratton.
- In June 2019, UCAN marched alongside Rep. Greg Harris and his supporters in Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade.
- UCAN continues to advocate for funding of the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois Capital Program. If approved, it would provide needed resources to address remaining debt associated with our Drost-Harding campus in North Lawndale.
- UCAN help lead the way to the June 2019 passage of the bipartisan FY20 state budget, which included a 5% emergency reimbursement rate increase for agencies like ours to support critical programs, including residential living, traditional or home-of-relative foster care, and teen parenting services.
- UCAN and our youth also traveled to Springfield multiple times this year to work with legislators and to advocate for DCFS funds.
- The new state budget included a DCFS allocation of $33 million in additional funds to support youth in care programs, including $24 million more for foster care and specialized foster care, and $9 million more for institutions and group homes. UCAN continues in our efforts to advocate and lobby for these long-overdue increases.
We’ve also seen significant success in our partnerships at the city level:
- Throughout the year, UCAN continued to work in partnership with city departments and officials, including the Mayor’s office, Ald. Michael Scott Jr., Chicago Police Department, Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Schools.
- We worked alongside Delia Ramirez and Sen. Omar Aquino on new legislation to create a new definition by the Illinois State Board of Education on how UCAN is compensated for students enrolled in our two therapeutic day schools.
- We hosted then-mayor Rahm Emanuel at a campus tour and a lunch with youth from the One Summer Chicago program.
- In July, UCAN hosted Mayor Lori Lightfoot and City Clerk Anna Valencia as they announced landmark legislation on city ticket and fines reform. UCAN Governing Board Chair Markell Bridges and former UCAN Vice President of Violence Intervention and Prevention Services Norman Kerr served on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Transition Team.
- Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sen. Dick Durbin attended our 20th Annual Youth Leadership Awards.
- Lastly, UCAN continues to host the weekly Cook County Restorative Justice Community Court, which remains the only court of its kind in the state.
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