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Survivor service centers in crisis, leaders ask community for help

Crisis center directors Jaya Kolisetty, Kari Miller and Carrie Ward meet Monday at the CAC to announce a fundraising campaign. The campaign will support service centers after a reduction of federal funding will severely decrease the therapy services they can provide.

Officials from three survivor service agencies gathered Monday to ask the community for help before a decrease in federal funds forces them into a reduction of therapy services.

Leaders from Rape Advocacy Counseling and Education Services (RACES), Champaign County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA), announced their Survivor Service Fund campaign Monday morning at a press conference held at the CAC.

The campaign aims to raise $260,000 by June 30 to replace the collective funding decrease that will be felt by RACES and the CAC in July of this year, said Jaya Kolisetty, the executive director of RACES.

“RACES has been doing this work for 50 years based out of Champaign County,” Kolisetty said. “We were expecting to expand next fiscal year.

“Unfortunately, those plans have been derailed by the impact of previous decisions by the federal government, which have decreased funding that is available for services to support survivors.”

In 2019, the federal government began a decrease in funds for the Victims of Crime Act. 

Though President Biden signed an act in 2021 to help stabilize the Crime Victims Fund, Illinois crisis centers will feel the decrease this year, Kolisetty said.

“While both agencies have been aggressively working to secure other funds,” she said, “we also think that it is important for our community to know that if we are not able to make up for the funds that we are losing from the federal government, we will be looking at cutting therapy services.”

The 31 rape crisis centers in Illinois face a 50% decrease of funding, which amounts to about $9.5 million, ICASA CEO Carrie Ward said. Children’s Advocacy Centers are facing about a 20% decrease in funds.

ICASA has petitioned the state government to invest an additional $12 million in general revenue funds for rape crisis services, bringing the total funding to about $20 million and about $900 per survivor, Ward said.

Without this funding, Ward said the impacts will be devastating on survivors, the workforce and communities across Illinois.

About 78% of centers will reduce staff, 72% of centers will create a waiting list for services, 40% of centers will close outreach offices, and services will be reduced across the state, Ward said.

Advocates at the press conference encouraged people to donate to the Survivor Service Fund at https://bit.ly/SurvivorServicesFund.

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