Domestic violence programs get funding

By Gary Scott on December 9, 2015 at 6:48am

Good news for those in Illinois that are in need of the services of domestic violence agencies- funding for those programs was included in Monday’s legislation signed by the governor that frees up nearly $3-billion in funding.

Senate Bill 2039, passed unanimously by the Senate on Monday before Governor Bruce Rauner signed it, includes a general line item for domestic violence support.

Dona Leanard is the Executive Director of the Jacksonville-based Crisis Center Foundation, which serves about 4-hundred adults and children each year in Morgan, Scott, Cass and northern Greene Counties. She says the funding is for the same amount as it was last year.

“We have done a lot of work to try to get the human services piece of the budget passed. Not just for domestic violence, but for all of the other human services that are not being funded, and in doing that, obviously, we’ve been lobbying for ourselves and as a whole,” says Leanard.

“The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which we are members of, has been really doing a lot of public policy work with the legislators.”

Leanard says state funding accounts for about 65 to 70 percent of the non-profit agency’s annual income through several grants. That translates into about $350-thousand.

Fortunately, Leanard says services haven’t had to be reduced at the Jacksonville site in the five-plus months since Illinois began the new fiscal year without a new budget. She says it’s unclear how much longer the Crisis Center Foundation would have gone largely unaffected.

“That’s so hard to tell because you never know what’s going to come through as far as donations or if we get our federal portion. We were getting our federal portion of our [Department of Human Services] money, and then I also have a Victims of Crime Act grant. That’s federal money, but we have been receiving that. We just signed out contract in the last couple weeks, for that. It just depends on what comes through for the month, how much longer we can make it,” she explains.

“We’re very fortunate, and we can breathe a little easier now and know that we can continue to do the vital work that we do every day and not have to worry about how we’re going to provide those services.”

Leanard says even though the funding that will come in is on par with last year’s level, she says it’s still not adequate funding for domestic violence services in Illinois. She calls the $18-million allocated a “meager” amount and says advocates are working every day to get more of an increase.