SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In an effort to improve school safety, State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, passed legislation creating grants to encourage schools to make innovative solutions to reduce school violence and arrest in communities with a high percentage of at-risk youth.
“The vicious cycle of senseless violence plaguing our communities is unacceptable,” Welch said. “Traditional law enforcement practices are not working on their own, so we need to look toward outside-of-the box solutions to solve this crisis.”
Welch passed House Bill 4208, which creates the Safe Schools and Healthy Learning Environments Program, which rewards grants to schools for creating plans using alternative, evidence based approaches to reduce school violence and arrests including: restorative justice programs; increased use of school psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals; drug and alcohol services; and conflict resolution training. Traditionally, law-enforcement officials have provided the primary source of school safety and intervention in potential violence.
Welch’s proposal seeks to supplement law-enforcement officials by incentivizing innovative approaches—with a focus on mental health—to reduce the violence that has rocked many communities in Illinois. Grants would be awarded giving priority to schools with a higher percentage of at-risk youth, schools with a higher law-enforcement to student ratio, as well as the strength of each school’s proposed plan of action.
“By incentivizing innovation we can allow mental health professionals, educators, and law-enforcement officials to learn from each other, collaborate, and adopt the best practices to stem school violence and arrests,” Welch said. “It is going to take a multi-faceted effort to solve this problem and this grant program will empower leaders in their field to address it head-on.”
House Bill 4208 passed the House with bipartisan support and awaits further action in the Senate.
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Visit Rep Welch’s website
200-5S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 524-0448 FAX
10055 W. Roosevelt Rd.
Westchester, IL 60154
(708) 450-1104 FAX