City Manager postpones Youth and Young Adult division restructuring


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) speaks at a city meeting. Following resident concerns, restructuring to Evanston’s Youth and Young Adult division will be postponed for six months.

Clare Proctor, Assistant City Editor

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz has postponed making any changes to the Youth and Young Adult division staff for six months, said Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd).

Bobkiewicz had initiated plans to move Kevin Brown — current community services manager of the Youth and Young Adult Division — to a new community workforce development position. This proposed change was met with strong opposition from residents and aldermen. No changes will be made in the program’s staffing for the six months, Braithwaite said.

“I’m definitely thankful for all the community members who came out to Council meetings and were vocal with their support, that they believe that the program needs to stay intact,” Braithwaite said.

The Youth and Young Adult division works with a target population of residents ages 14 to 26, providing workforce development, alternative recreation in promotion of health and fitness, education and civic engagement. The division is responsible for operating the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which provides workforce opportunities to youth ages 14 to 18.

Those in opposition to the restructuring largely voiced concerns at an Oct. 22 City Council meeting that moving Brown to a different department would disrupt the effectiveness of the division.

“The Youth and Young Adult services’ effectiveness from the knowledgeable, dedicated leadership of Kevin Brown, and the knowledgeable, passionate dedication of the staff, and the implementation of the high-quality program that they have is really having a positive effect on people’s lives in Evanston,” said Evanston resident Candace Austin during public comment at the meeting.

Keeping the division’s staff together is a priority for Braithwaite, he told The Daily.

Evanston resident Dale Griffin called the restructuring a “matter of public health and safety” at the Oct. 22 meeting.

“This work is an investment in the vibrancy, health and safety of the entire Evanston community,” Griffin said. “This is where we can make a real difference in people’s lives and prevent violence in the future.”

The community’s opposition to the Youth and Young Adult Division was a contributing factor to the city manager’s decision to postpone any restructuring, Braithwaite told The Daily.

Bobkiewicz was unavailable for comment.

Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie said the city’s social services will continue to be audited, and recommendations will be brought forward in June. For now, the department will remain as-is, with no changes.

Braithwaite said he has not heard from any residents or community organizations who are in support of the restructuring. Rather, the community wants the team to stay intact, he said.

“My hope is that, whether it stays in Parks and Rec. or moves to Community Development, that the team stays intact, he said. “Until I see a strategic plan that makes better sense, I’m going to be supportive of the team staying intact.”

Kristina Karisch contributed reporting.

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