Child advocacy centers seek support during pandemic

Health

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– While some kids are enjoying their time out of the classroom and home with their family. The order to stay at home may be keeping others in a dangerous situation.

Child advocates say abuse thrives in isolation. In a letter submitted to his office Thursday, Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) asked Governor J.B. Pritzker for more funding to help kids in need once things go back to normal. While the centers are still operating as an essential service, the director for centers around the state said between 20-25 percent of their funding comes from fundraisers. Many of those take place during child abuse prevention month in April and are now canceled.

“We’re looking at a large hit to most of the CAC’s budget of not having that fundraising. And this is on top of last year’s legislation that reduced the fees and fines collected by a lot of the CACs. Those were also a source of unrestricted funds so this is kind a double whammy for many of the CACs,” Child Advocacy Centers of Illinois Executive Director Kim Maginaricino said.

Maginaricino said the unrestricted funding is often used for things like training, administrative costs, and other efforts that are not funded by grants while grant funds are used for direct services. She said whenever children are out of school for an extended period of time. “With the 50 percent decrease to the [Department of Children and Family Service’s abuse and neglect] hotline and the decrease in children coming into children’s advocacy centers, we’re going to be looking at probably an overwhelming number coming back.”

“We know that some of our kids are in a home right now where they are not safe and they don’t have access to the outside world,” Maginaricino said. “We may have to hire more staff or have some contractual workers, we are really going to have to be creative about how we are able to meet the needs.”

Maginaricino said she has not heard back from the governor but his staff assured her the concerns for children in the state would be a priority moving forward. The centers are also asking state agencies and cities around the state to be flexible with deadlines and funding restrictions so they can focus on keeping their operations running. If you suspect a child is being abused, you are encouraged to call the state’s 24 hour hotline, 800-25-ABUSE, to make a report.

Child Advocacy Centers of Illinois submitted a letter to Governor J.B. Pritzker to request additional support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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