Children’s advocacy centers across Illinois received bad news Thursday, said Sheryl Woodham, executive director of The Guardian Center, based
A fax indicated that, on July 1, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would execute a plan to no longer honor or renew contracts with children’s advocacy centers.
Difficult choices must be made to create a fiscally responsible budget for Illinois, Woodham said. “However, this severe loss of funding is resulting in a blatant disservice to the children of Illinois.”
Here is the balance of her statement:
“Children’s advocacy centers of Illinois exist for the sole purpose of protecting our abused children. With 38 offices serving 85 of the 102 counties of Illinois, CACs reached out to help over 11,220 children last year alone.
“CACs provide a multidisciplinary approach and services to sexually abused children and their families. Annual funding for these necessary services comes PRIMARILY from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. This tremendous loss of funding will force our local children advocacy centers to eliminate services, staff and may result in CACs closing their doors.
“Where will these children now go? What safe haven will be available to help children who have experienced the raw pain and hurt of child abuse?
“What a terrible decision for the state to make. These cuts were made under the auspice of saving money for the state. These cuts will COST the state, not save! Children’s advocacy centers save their communities money every day!
“A CAC provides a SAVINGS of over $1,000 per case compared to non-CAC investigations. Last year alone, CACs saved the State of Illinois over $11 million. In less than 20 days, all this will change due to this tremendous cut. The State of Illinois is choosing to cut a service that clearly SAVES state money.
“CACs exist to offer guidance, support and relief to children and their families. The State of Illinois needs to understand the seriousness of this miscalculated budget choice. Children need security and support. The drastic cuts by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will prohibit the CACs from assisting in the protection and support of our children. This is not an acceptable answer. The State of Illinois must find a way to protect our children.
“CACs save taxpayers money, decrease trauma for child victims by providing a child-friendly environment and ensure that the child receives comprehensives services to begin the healing process
“1 out of 3. 1 out of 6. These statistics represent how many girls and boys will be sexually abused or assaulted by the age of 18. 1 out of every 3 girls. Think of neighbors, sisters, cousins and daughters. 1 out of every six boys. Think of friends, brothers, nephews and sons. Who will protect them?
“Stand up and protect our children today. We must speak for those in our lives with the softest voices and greatest needs.”
As each state battles with its own deficit, legislators must decide whether to complete the new ballpark, or fund child protection.
My argument for child protection of course, is that healthy children make healthy adults and good citizens; or as Pliny stated 2500 years ago, “what you do to your children, they will do to your society”
Support at risk children, start a KARA group in your community.
It is a bigger step to convince people that healthy children become healthy citizens, but it is true.
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