Facing ‘funding crisis,’ ICASA seeks help from state after cut in some federal dollars

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – An organization representing rape crisis centers across the state is working to get more money from Illinois after some of their federal funding is getting cut. 

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault estimates the federal government is slashing their funding from the Victims of Crime Act in half, according to testimony from CEO Carrie Ward. She estimates that’s around $9.5 million, adding that the state’s rape crisis centers are “facing a funding crisis.”

The advocacy group asked state lawmakers for a $12 million dollar increase in funding in the upcoming budget to offset the loss. However, the state did not include any additional dollars for ICASA in the budget.

“We were really disappointed to see that ICASA was not included for an increase in the state General Revenue Funds, and we weren’t included in any kind of the special allocations that were made,” Ward said.

Ward said their work might become more challenging without the support.

“There will be areas of the state that will have fewer services, because some centers will not be able to sustain their outreach offices or their satellite offices because they have less funding,” Ward said.

The group is working with the Department of Human Services to secure around $5 million in funding.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Ward said. “Where it leaves us for the future, though, is we still have a significant gap that needs to be bridged.”

ICASA helped about 22,000 survivors of sexual assault receive support across the state in fiscal year 2022 and is on track to repeat that in fiscal year 2023. Ward believes the budget cuts can impact the wait times for receiving support.

“Survivors will still experience some waiting lists for services, because in some areas of the state, folks will no longer have enough staff to meet their needs,” Ward said.

But she said the $5 million does soften that blow.

“It does mean there are fewer staff that will be laid off, there are fewer offices that will be closed, there are fewer centers that will have to have longer waiting lists, but it doesn’t eliminate those issues,” Ward said.

Ward said she also plans to meet with Illinois’ members of Congress about the importance of the support from the federal government.