With its decision in December to increase its funding for the Township Youth Interventionist program, officials at Oak Park and River Forest High School kept faith with their students and families who most benefit from this essential effort.
By ratifying its participation in the interventionist program for 2011, and adding another $5,200 to its contribution, OPRF nearly closes the circle of support from all local government bodies. Nearly, but not quite. That’s because the recalcitrant River Forest Park District continues its refusal to sign on for another two years, making the absurd claim that it doesn’t have youth issues.
Now 15 years old, the township-created interventionist program remains the most collaborative and innovative effort in our urban communities to directly tackle the challenges presented by teens on the verge of getting into genuine trouble. At a modest cost of just $250,000 annually, the interventionists knock on apartment doors, walk park paths, and generally, are a frontline resource that local elementary schools, libraries, police and village governments embrace.
That the River Forest parks continue to balk at paying for 1.5 percent of the program is remarkably dunderheaded. Pay it because there are youth issues in River Forest. Pay it because there is power in unanimity. For 14 years, all 11 government units in our villages have stepped up to pay a share of the cost of taking care of our kids. Now is not the time to stop.