State cannot afford to cut C.I.T.Y.

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, January 29, 2009

The state’s education budget is getting worse by the day. Not only are the classrooms in kindergarten through 12th grade and college being affected by proration, but also the C.I.T.Y. program.

C.I.T.Y. stands for Community Intensive Treatment for Youth. The program is a non-residential, co-educational, comprehensive strategy for meeting the needs of at-risk youth and their families. C.I.T.Y. strives to prevent these youth from continued involvement with the justice system by developing the social, behavioral, academic and family skills needed to become productive members of the community. The C.I.T.Y. Programs enroll youth ages 12-17 referred directly from local juvenile court systems under court order. In many ways, C.I.T.Y. provides a last stop before incarceration to a juvenile institution.

Our program has been able to serve as many as 30 students in previous years, but they may have to cut that number to 20 because at least four employees may be let go soon. That’s at least 10 students each year that the program cannot reach. Those students that cannot attend the C.I.T.Y. program may be forced to go to juvenile detention. They cannot get the kind of counseling and rehabilitation they need to become productive citizens.

This ultimately could affect crime in our community. After a juvenile gets out of detention, they will still be the same person they were before they went in jail. A juvenile that goes through C.I.T.Y. will be better equipped to change once they complete the program.

The state has cut more than $1 million out of C.I.T.Y.’s budget. Currently, there are 11 programs statewide. The cuts will force one program to close and 28 employees in the system will lose their jobs. If that happens, our youth may not get the opportunity to change their ways before it’s too late. We believe the C.I.T.Y. program is a necessary program in our state, and our legislature should find a way to prevent these cuts from being made.