Budget impasse shuts down program for troubled youths

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A spokesman for the Illinois National Guard says about 90 staffers of the Lincoln’s Challenge program for troubled youth have been asked not to report for work because of the state budget impasse.

Lt. Brad Leighton says all of the staffers are contract employees and considered vendors to the state. He says only about 12 staffers remain at the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, where the Guard operates Lincoln’s Challenge.

Leighton tells the Champaign News-Gazette the next class of more than 400 Illinois youths was expected July 15 but has been postponed.

Lincoln’s Challenge offers a 22-week voluntary program for young women and men. It’s 75 percent federally funded and 25 percent state funded, but the federal reimbursement is paid only after state funds have been used.