Youth and Family

In 2018, Bloomington-Normal experienced a surge in violence, including 9 homicides, many of them involving young people under 30. McLean County has seen the poverty rate continue to rise, reaching 18% in 2017 despite overall household incomes increases. We have also seen an increase in work opportunities that lack meaningful potential or capacity for growth. These factors are creating an environment in the McLean County area that is limiting opportunities for growth and preventing community health and happiness.

Recently, United Way of McLean County conducted a survey on how our community is viewed by its youths and its leaders. One image showcases words which Bloomington-Normal leaders used to describe McLean County, while the other provides words offered by the community’s youths.

These two groups are critical to the development of our community. It is our hope to one day have more cohesion between these groups and empower our Bloomington-Normal to be the best community it can be.

United Way of McLean County is working to combat the growing violence and poverty rates by focusing on school readiness and behavioral health.

School Readiness

“The Breakfast Club”

This effort provides local at-risk youth with opportunities for leadership development, service, and connection to careers available locally. We’re partnering with local organizations and businesses to give youth a voice and to demonstrate to them the best that Bloomington-Normal has to offer.

For School Readiness, some current community collaborators include:

Boys & Girls Club
Big Brothers Big Sisters
The Jule Foundation

Behavioral Health

The Illinois Department of Human Services conducts the “Illinois Youth Survey”. Results from 2018 demonstrate the following eye-opening results:

  • Over 300 students (14%) reported seriously considering suicide
  • Over 1,000 students surveyed (roughly 1/3) reported feeling significant sadness or depression every day for 2 or more weeks, that they stopped doing normal activities
  • Over 400 youth received mental health services
  • 150 teenagers were hospitalized last year for a mental health issue

Those that must be hospitalized travel to neighboring communities because we don’t have the facilities locally in Bloomington-Normal. We hope to mitigate these issues by developing the Adolescent Outpatient Center.

Teens considering suicide chart

The Adolescent Outpatient Center

As discussed, those that are hospitalized are transported to other communities, but when their hospitalization is complete, and they return, McLean County has a gap in services for these young people.

The Adolescent Outpatient Center provides an intermediate step in bridging this gap.  While hospitalization is still not a reality in Bloomington-Normal, upon exiting the hospital, this service would create a more streamlined transition back into our community and schools.

The Adolescent Outpatient Center would:

  • Coordinate services across providers giving coordinating support for continuity of care
  • Serve 10 to 20 at a time
    • Short-term duration of 7 to 14 days
    • 13 to 18-year-olds
    • Likely helping up to 200 youth per year
  • Connects with schools in McLean County proactively
    • Previously, little warning or support was provided during these transitions
    • Coordinated efforts between this service and the school districts

United Way McLean County will primarily work with the county government and local service providers to offer direction and support to build the infrastructure and programs to change the face of adolescent mental health in Bloomington-Normal.

For Behavioral Health, the current community collaborator includes:

McLean County Health Department