Center pushes for funding, services to help abused kids

Nearly 19,000 kids were abused last year in Illinois, according to reports from DCFS, yet many of the services that provide counseling and help for those kids have gone unfunded for nearly 10 months because of the budget impasse.

One center in southern Illinois is hoping a walk helps bring awareness to the problem.

From counseling to crisis response, the Family Counseling Center provides mental health services for thousands of people in southern Illinois.

D.J. Thompson says she’s been using services like the psycho-social rehabilitation group for years.

"I see a therapist there, and they’ve helped me a lot," Thompson said.

Roughly 50 jobs have been cut or sustained reduced hours since September. Their youth homeless shelter in Rosiclare was shut down.

A full year without a state budget will leave the center down $695,000. That makes up 11 percent of their annual budget. Director Sherrie Crabb says they’re struggling and so are the services.

"We’ve had to reduce community-based services for youth. Right now, we’re just doing crisis response for youth that are runaways or they’re locked out of their home," Crabb said.

Crabb says the Family Counseling Center promotes awareness of child abuse through events like the Wednesday’s walk, and now they have to use the events to bring awareness of how much they need funding. Hundreds participated Wednesday.

With roughly 130 child abuse cases reported in Johnson County last year, Crabb says walking against child abuse is walking to find funding for services, too. "And without those resources in place, I fear that the rates of child abuse would go up," Crabb said.

Thompson says she would struggle if the center closed, but it would likely be the abused kids that end up hurting the most.

"Yeah, especially the kids. They do need to be heard, and people just want to turn a blind eye to it," Thompson said.

She and others hope lawmakers can pass a budget before that happens.

Also attending the child abuse prevention walk were Sen. Gary Forby and Rep. Brandon Phelps. They say they won’t stop fighting in Springfield until social services like the Family Counseling Center have the funding they need to help abused and abandoned kids.

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