Illinois DCFS budget slashed, agencies strive to maintain servic - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Illinois DCFS budget slashed, agencies strive to maintain services

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- Programs that give critical support and resources to families and kids could struggle to maintain services this year in light of state budget cuts. 

The state of Illinois is looking at slashing $86 million from the budget for the Department of Children and Family Services, and the cuts will affect local programs.

Dozens of kids who are sexually abused go through the doors of the Advocacy Network for Children every year, and counselors there are always on call to help.

But, the budget at Advocacy Network is already stretched thin and because it's funded in large part by DCFS, it's facing even more cuts. 

"I would do anything not to have to use state funding," said Clairice Hetzler, the Executive Director of the Advocacy Network for Children.

The Advocacy Network for Children's mission is to provide support and be a voice for kids who have been sexually abused, but cuts are making it increasingly difficult to maintain services.

Next year, the Advocacy Network will be working with a budget that's three percent smaller than this year.

"It's a little over three thousand dollars for us," said Hetzler. "It may not sound like a lot, but if you take it and you take it with the cuts that we've had from the Attorney General's Office, that over the last few years has been $10,000."

The latest budget cuts are forcing the Advocacy Network to trim operation costs, which Hetzler says is challenging since there's a growing need for child services in the area.

"Our board and our staff are dedicated to the mission of serving kids who are abused, and we're not backing off on that. We're just going to have to find new ways to do it," said Hetzler.

One of the ways Advocacy Network is looking to save money is by Skyping instead of traveling to meetings in the nine counties it serves.

But, Hetzler says it will be a challenge in the future to avoid deeper cuts if the Advocacy Network continues to rely solely on state funding.

"We expect to lose a lot of state funding," said Hetzler, "and we don't expect it to get better. We expect it to get worse."

 Hetzler says the Advocacy Board of Directors is looking at other options for funding right now, including raising more local support.

The DCFS cuts won't be official until Governor Quinn signs the budget.

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