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Youth services point Central Illinois teens to the joys of better lives

The services support students whose behavior may not yet meet clinical criteria for addiction.

Peer pressure and trauma exposure can be difficult for adolescents to process. With minds that are still developing, they often lack healthy coping skills that could equip them to make positive life choices. For those at higher risk of substance use or other harmful behaviors, a caring adult may be the supportive link to a life well-lived.

Rosecrance Central Illinois’ youth services provide that boost through early intervention to teens in Champaign and Piatt counties. These offerings, which go a step further than the organization’s prevention education, support students whose behavior may not yet meet clinical criteria for addiction.

“We know that youth have a much better chance at overcoming substance use and other obstacles if it is addressed early,” said Carol Bradford, Rosecrance Central Illinois’ Director of Substance Use Treatment. “Our services make an immeasurable impact on individuals who are starting to have issues because we can provide resources to help redirect their lives.”

To reduce barriers to access, youth services staff are mobile. They work closely with the Youth Assessment Center, Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center, school districts, and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice to meet young clients one-on-one or in groups at convenient locations.

The team takes a holistic approach to each person, seeing risky behaviors in the context of that individual’s life. This enables counselors to address each client’s particular situation, whether that involves trauma, family histories of substance use, neighborhood dynamics, or other factors.

As a result, youth are gently nudged back on track for success. Many who go through the program finish their education and find a career path, eliminate substance use, or complete probation and no longer have contact with law enforcement.

“I love it when a youth who was having difficulties in school comes back to me with their diploma and tells me how they are going to soar in life,” said addiction counselor Alysia Fenton-Stackpole. “I’m proud of all the hard work it took to make meaningful changes that will benefit them for years to come.”

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