Jones: Don’t forget our youth when drafting the budget

Jones-rempl-picSpringfield – A recent study conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab revealed that an initiative pushed by members of the Senate Black Caucus resulted in lower violent crime arrest during summer months. The initiative is called the Youth Employment Program, and it provided jobs for thousands of at-risk youth during the summer months.

Participants held a variety of jobs, ranging from camp counselors to administrative aides. A majority of the participants were from neighborhoods where unemployment rates are over 19 percent.

“Providing our youth with alternatives to being in the streets is necessary to ensure the next generation has the chance to thrive,” said Senator Emil Jones III, Chairman of the Senate Black Caucus. “Moving into the next General Assembly, I hope Governor Rauner will take note and make funding for the program a priority.

Senator Jones believes that the summer jobs programs keep at risk youth from entering into the judicial system by having an alternative activity that helps them develop career skills.

“Housing an inmate in Cook County jail costs around $45,000 per year as opposed to the summer Youth Employment Program that costs around 3,000 per year per participant,” Jones said. “Summer employment saves taxpayers money in the long run.”

The program provided employment and job skills training for more than 1,800 youth who worked part-time at partnering local businesses, government offices and non-profit organizations.

“The summer months are primarily when we see a spike in crime across the city. If we want to see continued reductions in crime and create a stronger workforce, then summer youth programs are where we can get our highest return on investing in our youth,” Jones said.

A study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab found that violent crime arrests decreased by 43 percent for teens who were employed and received support from mentors.

“Violent crime is incredibly regressive in its impact—it takes the greatest toll on society’s most vulnerable,” said Roseanna Ander, Executive Director of the Crime Lab. “There is far too little policy and research attention, as well as, precious few resources focused on adolescents, especially those from disadvantaged neighborhoods who are really struggling.”

Jones introduces measure to help families struggling with child care costs

childcareState Senator Emil Jones III (D – Chicago) is pushing legislation to provide $300 million for the gaping budget hole in Illinois’ child care program.

The Department of Human Services Child Care Assistance Program provides low-income working families with access to child care. It allows parents to continue working and contributes to the development of a child. Unfortunately it ran out of money and has been suspended.

“The suspension of this program brought hardship to working families in our communities,” Senator Jones said. “Families are being denied child care, and parents are afraid of losing their jobs because they have no other options.”

A family’s eligibility to participate in the program is based on its monthly income.  Families pay a copay based on family size and ability to pay.

The program also serves families with parents continuing their education to obtain better paying jobs and teen parents seeking a high school diploma or equivalency degree.

The suspension of the program is also taking its toll on the local economy as home day care providers are forced to turn children away. In October of last year, an estimated 195,000 children participated in the program. Federal funds help support the program. It’s the state’s share of the program funding that is running short in the current fiscal year.

“The need for this program is obvious. Parents can still support their families and local businesses continue to thrive,” Jones said. “It’s unfortunate that young families wtih young children are caught in this financial crossfire.”

If passed by the General Assembly and signed into law, this legislation will provide DHS with the dollars it needs to avoid service disruption and ensure payments are made to childcare providers.

Black Caucus applauds Rauner’s executive order on minority contracting

jones-harrisOn Monday, Governor Rauner signed an executive order requiring labor unions and companies that do business with the state to report on how many minorities and veterans participate in apprenticeship and training programs.

State Senator Emil Jones III, Chairman of the Senate Black Caucus, had this to say:

“Governor Rauner’s executive order to review minority contracting statistics shows his willingness to tackle tough issues facing diverse communities,” Senator Jones said. “For years, members of the Black Caucus have created laws aimed at leveling the playing field for minority contractors.

“It looks as if Governor Rauner is willing to listen to our concerns and work toward establishing tangible results.”

The Senate Black Caucus has been instrumental in moving legislation forward to increase business opportunities for minority contractors and views this executive order as a step in the right direction.

State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D –Dixmoor) recently hosted a Minority Contractors Business Summit to learn what issues minority businesses face, in hopes of finding legislative answers.

“Members of the minority business community voiced their opinions about challenges they experience when bidding on state work,” Senator Harris said. “This legislative session, the Black Caucus and I will work together to pass measures to increase opportunities for minority businesses who contract work from the state.”

In the coming weeks, the Senate Black Caucus will host a press conference unveiling their 2015 legislative agenda.

Senator Emil Jones III

14th District

Years served:
2009 - Present

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Higher Education; Licensed Activities (Chairperson); Transportation; Veterans Affairs; Oversight Medicaid Mang. Care, Spec; Financial Institutions; Insurance (Vice-Chairperson).

Biography: Born May 16th, 1978, in Chicago; son of former Senate President Emil Jones Jr. and the late Patricia Jones; graduated from Chicago Christian High School in Palos Heights; attended Chicago State University and Robert Morris College in Chicago; former administrator at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Associated Representatives:
Robert Rita
Justin Slaughter