CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign County Youth Assessment Center has been up and running at its new west Champaign location since April. But now, with all the equipment plugged in and the welcome mat out front, officials are taking time to celebrate some success stories.
The center provides services to troubled kids in an attempt to keep them out of court and prison. Thanks to a $50,000 donation from Jimmy John’s founder Jimmy John Liautaud, its rent at 2011 Round Barn Road is covered for three years.
“What we’re excited about are our partnerships that we are continually growing with the police departments and with the school districts, especially,” said coordinator Jonathan Westfield, a former Champaign police officer. “But we’re also looking to branch out to a lot of the community organizations that work with juveniles, and we can better provide access to these services that they have.”
Case manager Gabriela Quijada was beaming at Thursday night’s open house.
“This building gives us a nice barrier at the front door for those moments when officers bring kids in handcuffs,” Quijada said. “We’re able to mediate things out there versus having too much of an open space where kids may have the ability to run around and do things that they shouldn’t.
“It’s really nice that we have an office up front where we actually do some in-house services,” she added. “We have someone from Rosecrance who comes in once a week and does drug and alcohol screenings for our kids so they don’t necessarily have to go to that agency if they don’t feel comfortable.”
Quijada said one of the youths she managed is off drugs, seeing a counselor and plans to join the military. And she said her door is always open if he wants to come back and talk.