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Fighting to the end: Women’s Center could close in three months without state funding

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Dustin Duncan 
Carbondale Times

 

The next three months could be the last for the Women’s Center, according to the center’s Executive Director Cathy McClanahan. 

She said the center — which services victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault — will have to close its doors if there isn’t funding in a state budget for such causes. April, May and June is all that’s left, she said. 

“June 30 is the end of the fiscal year,” she said. “Unless there is a budget with funding for sexual assault and domestic violence, we will run throughout everything we have saved from the last 40 years.” 

McClanahan said funding for domestic violence shelters was left out of the fiscal year 2017 partial year budget the General Assembly passed June 30. Additionally, she said the stopgap budget the general assembly is working on isn’t enough to keep the center’s doors open. The bill provides another stopgap spending plan that provides $800 million to human-service programs and higher education. 

She said it provides 33 percent of the center’s revenue. 

Currently, she said the center is owed $10,000 to $20,000 from the Department of Human Services from just January and February, and that doesn’t take into account March or April. She said recent funding has been reduced from $192,000 to $55,000 for its Rape Crisis services. 

She said the center has about $250,000 in savings, but that would barely cover where the organization is behind. The center hasn’t received state dollars since Nov. 30. 

In a typically year, the center receives $494,000 in state and federal dollars. However, McClanahan said in order to receive the federal funds, the state has to match a portion, which it hasn’t done. 

The $494,000 annually goes to funding the domestic violence program, staff, operating expenses, the shelter, food, supplies and all other necessities. 

“Without the operating dollars, it will shut the building down,” McClanahan said. 

She said the center would have to give back some federal dollars because it can’t have the funds without an operating facility. 

The center served 982 people and 189 children, and took about 10,000 calls on the Crisis Hotline in FY16.

“We are the only service provider until you get to Cairo in Southern Illinois,” McClanahan said. “Many don’t have insurance and services that you have to pay for are so backed up there are ridiculous waiting times.” 

In June, if there isn’t funding, McClanahan said the center will have informed individuals at the center about the closure. She said the center will work to find them another facility, but many of the facilities in the state are in a similar situation. 

“We keep hoping for a miracle,” she said. “We will keep going on as long as we can.” 

State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo,  said the Women’s Center has to be funded. 

“The next stopgap that comes through … we have to be sure that we include them,” he said. “If that had been on my watch where they would have been left out, then I would have been really upset.”

He said the work the center does is really important and he has fond memories of volunteering with the center when he went to law school at SIU. 

“Their mission is important,” he said. “We have to keep pushing the need to compromise and put an end to this impasse.”

Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said being a survivor of domestic violence as a child, it is especially important to keep the Women’s Center open. 

“We didn’t have any place to go and you just go into hiding for a while,” she said. “It is very important that facility stay open.” 

She said if the majority in Springfield really wanted to provided funding to facilities like the Women’s Center, the most recent “lifeline” bill would have been approved by the House earlier, not just an half hour before the Senate adjourned for two weeks. 

“It isn’t even going to get seen for two weeks,” she said. 

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