Oak Park Township program targets families struggling with substance abuse

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Families in Oak Park and River Forest whose children are struggling with substance abuse will have a program available to them to help both the parents and kids cope.

The Oak Park Township Youth Services is sponsoring a program called FACE IT — Families Acting Collaboratively to Educate and Involve Teens — targeting high school and middle school-aged children with substance abuse problems. Youth Services is funding the program, which also provides counseling for parents. Participation by both the adults and their kids is mandatory, said Bert Patania, youth team interventionist supervisor with the township.

Another aspect of the program is having both parents and kids come to evening counseling sessions together. They'll work with counselors separately and then come together. Patania said the township is seeking participation from the school districts in both villages, hoping to start the program with a group of families within the next couple of months. Peter Traczyk, president of the District 97 school board, who discussed the program with Patania at the Feb. 22 meeting, said his district is in favor of the program but can't participate immediately. Traczyk said his board would need more time to review its policies concerning student privacy, as one issue, before being able to sign on.

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