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Without C.I.T.Y., troubled youth may have nowhere to go

Dear Editor,

Earlier this month the C.I.T.Y. Program of Chilton County learned they would be losing four staff members due to budget cuts. The state program’s budget was cut by $1.7 million this fiscal year. Four staff members were told they would be laid off at the end of January. Nevertheless, later were told they were not losing their jobs. There will be cuts without the necessary funding, but we are unsure how many positions will be eliminated.

The late Mr. Edward E. Earnest founded C.I.T.Y. Programs of Alabama Feb. 2, 1981. C.I.T.Y. stands for Community Intensive Treatment for Youth. Ed completely gave himself to changing the lives of at-risk youth. He fulfilled his dream of establishing the C.I.T.Y. Programs statewide with the eleventh program opening in 2007. Ed’ s Motto was “Catch ‘em doin’ right.”

C.I.T.Y. Program of Chilton County had 21 participants earn their GED and 40 participants earned their Certificate of Completion in Program Years 2007 through 2008. Since the year 2000, C.I.T.Y. Program of Chilton County has served close to 560 youth. C.I.T.Y. Program of Chilton County averages 25 students per day yearly. The typical C.I.T.Y. Program student has experienced difficulty in the school system academically, behaviorally, or both. Most show signs of problems at home. The C.I.T.Y. Program gives teens one more chance for remediation academically to return to school at their correct grade level or obtain their GED. The C.I.T.Y. Program also provides family counseling and services to resolve family issues and promote a cooperative effort in the home.

The children who attend the C.I.T.Y. Program of Chilton County are ordered into the facility through the Judge of the Juvenile Court. The C.I.T.Y. Program of Chilton County has a track record of being a positive cost-effective approach to meeting the needs of “at risk” youth. The cost is about $65 less per day per youth than juvenile institutions and over 92 percent of our enrollees are not convicted of any new offenses. Around 89 percent of the youth enrolled in our program are diverted from state juvenile institutions. Without the C.I.T.Y. Program they may not have anywhere to go due to the fact that some of the children are not allowed to return to the public school system.

C.I.T.Y. Program of Chilton County is under the control of the Department of Postsecondary Education. It is up to State Legislation and the community to help keep their doors open, after losing one-third of the state program’s annual allotment due to budget cuts.

The program needs assistance in order to avoid these drastic measures and absorb the huge cut in their budget.

– Betty Tidwell, C.I.T.Y. program coordinator