Youth Assessment Center plans to open in new location in spring

Youth Assessment Center plans to open in new location in spring

CHAMPAIGN — Plans are falling into place for the new location of Champaign County's juvenile-diversion program, with an open date set for spring.

Thanks to a $50,000 donation in December from Jimmy John Liautaud, the county's Youth Assessment Center can afford three years of rent in its new location. Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said the center will move from its current location on Randolph Street to a building near the driver services facility in the Round Barn Center complex by the intersection of Mattis and Springfield avenues.

Dalitso Sulamoyo, CEO of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, which manages the center, said it needs to leave its current location by the end of March.

"We're hoping to have access to our new location by March 1," Sulamoyo said Thursday, "and then be fully settled in by the beginning of April."

A property agreement for the center's specific location in the Round Barn complex is very close to being finalized, Sulamoyo said.

The center is currently housed rent-free in a building owned by the Champaign school district, but the district needs it back as it begins overhauling its facilities.

Emily Schmit, Unit 4's communications director, said the Youth Assessment Center's current building will become the temporary home of the school district's Family Information Center, which will leave the former Columbia Center to make way for Dr. Howard Elementary School students and staff, who will spend the next two academic years there while their school is torn down and built anew.

Throughout the changes, Sulamoyo said Unit 4 will continue working with the center in guiding kids toward programs they need instead of the criminal-justice system.

"This will be a space that's easily accessible to public transportation and easier to get to," Sulamoyo said about the new location. "We'll continue providing the same services, but maybe down the road, we may get some of the organizations that we refer (kids) to in the same location as us."

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