KANKAKEE — The Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s Office and Kankakee School District 111 are partnering to hire a community outreach specialist as part of ongoing efforts to change how juvenile delinquency is addressed in the community.
The Kankakee School Board approved the partnership during a July 13 meeting.
The school district agreed to pay $30,000 annually for half of the community outreach specialist’s salary. The State’s Attorney’s Office will also pay for half the person’s salary as well as benefits and job-related expenses.
The hire would work directly under the supervision of Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe. Rowe said he has begun the process of interviewing candidates and is looking to bring someone on for the position soon.
Superintendent Genevra Walters said hiring a community outreach specialist is a way to be proactive and provide support for students before they become involved with the police.
“That person will be responsible for working primarily with our District 111 kids and trying to be proactive in terms of issues happening in the community,” she said.
Walters added that this role will be particularly important because of how the pandemic has disrupted the typical school environment.
“Now that we’re in this pandemic, the entire community is our school because school is happening everywhere,” she said. “So we need to make sure we are in the community as well as in the school building, because that’s where school is happening. That’s where learning is happening.”
The community outreach specialist will be responsible for providing regular progress reports to the administration and school board and working closely with the district on relevant projects.
“This would strengthen the relationship between [the criminal justice system], schools and youth exponentially, especially in District 111 where we would pilot these initiatives,” according to the proposal for the agreement.
Initiatives would address and raise awareness on pressing public safety issues including the opioid epidemic, gang and gun violence, domestic violence and teen dating violence, sexual assault, mental health and homelessness, truancy, suicide and animal abuse, according to the job description.