CITY HALL — The City Council added a social-service element to curfew violations Wednesday.
Sponsored by Ald. Deborah Graham (29th), the measure would have police deliver social-service pamphlets from the Department of Family & Support Services to parents whose children are picked up on curfew violations. It would also allow administrative hearing officers to impose social-service counseling on troubled families with chronic curfew problems.
Chicago's curfew is 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 on weekends for children under 17, and 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 on weekends for those under 12.
Graham granted that the current ordinance allows for a $500 fine and community service for the parents of curfew violators, but said, "The problems are not being addressed."
Speaking emotionally from the council floor, Graham said she wanted to strike at the root issues behind the problem.
"When you pick these children up off the street multiple times, it's said that something's wrong," Graham said. "Why aren't these children home? Is there something going on in the family that they don't want to go home?"
She said counseling could address underlying issues such as substance abuse or unemployment.
"Let's help our families out there," she said. "Let's give them the help they need. Let's make these families whole."
Others stressed the tougher aspects of imposed counseling.
"We need to hold these parents accountable," said Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), who likewise gave an emotional speech.
"We need better parenting," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd). "These kids who have kids are who we have to mentor."
All agreed on the need for the counseling, and the measure passed unanimously.