The organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a report on Thursday on after-school programs.
The report found that the hours immediately following school, between 2 to 6 p.m., when youth are most likely to get in trouble with the law.
Local law enforcement leaders also visited the after-school program at McIntosh Elementary School in Rockford to mark the 20th anniversary of Lights On Afterschool.
It’s an annual series of events held across the country to celebrate and advocate for after-school programs.
Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea spoke about the need for police to establish relationships with kids early on.
“All across the country, police agencies are investing in kids by trying to be part of the after-school care programs,” said O’Shea. “But also urging members of Congress and state and local governments to fund programs for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. I'm very happy to be a part of it.”
Republican State Representative John Cabello was also at the event. He said the State needs to put more money into after-school programs.
“When you look at the numbers, it needs to be expanded,” said Cabello. “Anytime we can do things to try to help with public safety, these should be our top priorities. You know, you look at the kids here, you see that what it actually does for them. It pays dividends later on.”
Funding for the McIntosh Elementary after-school program comes from the federal 21st Century Learning Centers. In May, more than 100 Illinois members of law enforcement signed a letter urging Congress to continue funding the centers. The Trump administration has proposed eliminating them each of the past three years.