Lightford010318SPRINGFIELD — Unaccompanied homeless minors, LGBTQ youth, those in need of early intervention for a mental health crisis and minors in conflict with their family could soon receive more help under a measure led by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that is now in effect.

Minors 12 years and older seeking counseling could soon receive more sessions without having to receive prior consent from a guardian. The proposal allows counselors to continue serving youth in circumstances where seeking parental permission may be detrimental to the youth.

“It’s important for young people to be able to seek the help they need on their own. Telling family about personal issues or trauma can be difficult and may even be dangerous,” Lightford said. “I hope this measure empowers minors to get counseling and benefits someone in need.”

The new law, House Bill 3709, increases the number of counseling visits for minors from five to eight sessions without having to receive prior consent from a guardian. Furthermore, it permits counselors to provide additional sessions under certain conditions, including cases of abuse or neglect.

Category: News

Elmhurst College is holding a scholarship competition for first generation college students. Students are required to compose and submit a video answering the question: As a first generation student, what would graduating from college mean to you and your family/friends?

The first-place winner will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship. The second-place winner will receive a stipend to cover four years’ room and board. All students who enter the competition will receive a $1,000 annual American Dream Grant, which can be added to previously awarded merit scholarships and/or grant aid.

The scholarship contest is open to all first-generation college students who have been admitted to Elmhurst College for the fall of 2018.

For more information:

Apply here:

Category: News

Lightford122117SPRINGFIELD- Children in public preschools are more than three times more likely to be expelled than children in kindergarten through 12th grades, according to a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois. Those numbers could soon change under a law sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that goes into effect on Jan. 1.

The proposal would prohibit the expulsion of children enrolled in early childhood programs receiving grants from the Illinois State Board of Education. The legislation focuses on transitioning children to programs that better fit a child’s needs.

“Expelling a child, especially at such a young age, neglects their ability to grow and learn given the right opportunities. We need to dedicate educational resources to helping students succeed as they face poverty, trauma, mental health issues and other unfortunate circumstances,” Lightford said.

House Bill 2663 not only serves young children, but it also acknowledges that educators need more support when instructing children with behavioral and mental health issues. The plan allows early childhood programs to participate in programs that work with teachers and parents to prevent further difficulties and build on children’s social-emotional skills.

“A lot is expected of teachers who often work in schools lacking the resources needed to deal with unexpected issues in their classrooms,” Lightford said. “When parents and teachers come together in the interest of our children we can expect better outcomes.”

Category: News

Lightford120817CHICAGO, IL— Austin community members gathered Wednesday, December 6, 2017, to speak out about Governor Rauner’s proposed rate hike for check-cashing fees at currency exchanges. The town hall meeting was chaired by Illinois Representative La Shawn Ford (8th), who partnered with Woodstock Institute, a leading not-for-profit that tackles financial injustices. The proposed double-digit increase, which was requested by the currency exchange industry who complained of declining profits, would strain traditionally underserved populations such as low-income people and communities of color.

For the Austin community, the rate hike is too much to bear. “We have a lot of challenges on the West Side of Chicago, and the lack of strong traditional financial services leaves some families vulnerable to a high cost to survive,” said Representative Ford, who serves as Chair of the House Financial Services Committee. “We need financial services, like the currency exchange, to be safe and affordable, because for many struggling families, it’s their only option.”

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Category: News

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