Illinois women's centers affected by government shutdown - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Illinois women's centers affected by government shutdown

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WSIL -- The historical partial government shutdown is affecting hundreds of thousands of employees, including women's centers across the state. 

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault is funded by the Justice Department, one of the many departments that are in limbo because of the shutdown. 

Thursday was day 27 of the shutdown, but there may be some hope for the centers. 

Executive director of ICASA Carrie Ward said she is worrisome about where their organization stands. 

ICASA is a network of 30 rape crisis centers across the state of Illinois. These centers provide 24 hour-hour response to victims who have been sexually assaulted. 

"Between 60 and 70 percent of our total budget is made up of federal funds," Ward said. "It's worrisome when you're not certain about what the status of your funding might be for the remaining of the fiscal year when you know there's a continuous demand for your service."

Ward said of ICASA's $26 million budget, about $18 million is made up of federal funds. 

"We have a budget and the funds have been allocated, but if the Department of Justice is not fully funded, then there can be an impact of the funding that we receive," Ward said. 

Ward said Thursday afternoon she received an exciting phone from the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW). The director of OVW told her they were going to continue to process payments. 

Originally the department of justice told organizations like ICASA they would stop processing funding request completely at 6 a.m. Friday. 

"Those 24-hour services are so critical and they are the life blood of rape crisis center, we have to have 24-hour crisis response for victims," Ward said. 

Ward says ICASA is still feeling the affects from the budget impasse two years ago and hopes they don't have to deal with this uncertainty much longer. 

"If you have people who have been there for several years who understand how the program works who are really good with victims and you lose them due to something like this, it's really hard to rebuild that and reestablish that," Ward said. 

Ward says victims will not see a difference in services due to the shutdown at this time, but if it continues victims might eventually have to be on a waiting list f they have to cut staff. 

To visit the ICASA website or find a center near you, click here

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