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Youth advocates to protest DCFS effort to close African American youth home

Youth advocates to protest systematic closure of African American group homes, including current DCFS target Alpha House. Activists decry mistreatment of Black agencies and youth by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Chicago, IL - Dozens of concerned citizens, clergy and other civic and community leaders will convene a press conference at 11:30 a.m., September 22 at Alpha House, Inc., 4937 S. Wood in Chicago, to declare their dissatisfaction with what they argue are 'decidedly racial overtones' motivating DCFS closures of African American owned and operated social services agencies, including Alpha House.

"DCFS is awash in the paternalistic 'we know what is best for you' mentality -- an ugly remnant of a not-bygone-enough era, when African Americans were considered to be inferior beings and Euro-Americans were considered to be more fully evolved," says Rev. Lawrence Bobo, an organizer of the action. "We say, time out for the evils of all types of racial profiling. We are systematically being told that White owned and operated social services agencies can raise our children better than we can -- and we won't stand for it."

DCFS has moved to close Alpha house because the agency's annual audit was incomplete. Alpha House recieved verbal notice of 'problems' with the audit on Tuesday morning, September 19. On Tuesday evening, DCFS faxed Alpha House a copy of their reasons for moving to decertify the agency. To date, Alpha House has received no hard copy from DCFS outlining their intentions.

Alpha House supporters had been advised earlier by DCFS that 'the community was complaining about the boys at Alpha House,' and later that the local alderman complained about the agency, which serves male youth.

"When we finally speak to the Executive Deputy Director of DCFS, they claimed it was Alpha House's audit," says Rev. Bobo "We know what the real story is -- and this community is fed up with this kind of attack on our institutions, particularly those that serve our youth."

Alpha House's community supporters will march this Monday, September 25, 2000 at 2:00 pm from Dearborn and Madison to 160 LaSalle, where they will stage a sit-in at the offices of DCFS.



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