Local victim assistance organizations worry about funding cuts

Published: May. 2, 2023 at 4:05 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - For those who have suffered abuse, local organizations provide resources and services to help them but a change in federal funding puts those services at risk.

Quanada officials said a good amount of their funding comes from the Victims of Crime Acts or VOCA funds. The money is collected from federal crimes, such as bail or asset seizures and goes to organizations like theirs, which help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Quanada CEO Megan Duesterhaus said they usually receive $200,000 in federal funds every year. The money is split between their domestic violence and sexual assault programs to where each gets $100,000.

Duesterhaus said found out they will receive only $100,000, half of what they normally receive because the VOCA funds were depleted.

“Two things started happening, one, U.S. attorney’s started kind of backing from prosecuting a lot of these federal types of crimes and then at the same time all the money that is supposed be directed into the Crime Victims Fund was just getting directed into the U.S. Treasury,” Duesterhaus said.

Duesterhaus said they knew about the reduction in funds in advance, but did not expect a cut this big.

The Advocacy Network for Children also receives federal funds. Executive director Todd Shackelford said they receive $263,000 which makes up to 60 percent of their budget.

Shackelford said he has not learned how much money they will loose.

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault is asking the state of Illinois to invest an additional $12 million in general revenue funding to be invested in rape crisis centers across Illinois to help make up for the shortfall. Dusterhaus said they did work to get a VOCA funding fix so the money can go back to helping centers like theirs, but it’ll take time to fill up.

Chief Operation Officer for Quanada’s Sexual Assault program Mandy Carpenter said while they are looking at grants and are accepting donations, if they don’t get the the necessary funds by July 1, their services are at risk.

“It can impact our ability to serve clients in our communities,” she said. “This can cause wait lists for counseling services, wait lists for legal advocacy services.”

She said their in-person response service for victims who go to the hospital for sexual assault could also be reduced.

Shackleford said depending on the amount, the reduced funding could affect the mental health services they offer.

Both groups hope the state will put some more money towards their organizations to help cover the loss of federal funds.

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