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Mental Health Board Steps in to Help Close Child Advocacy Center Funding Gap

Post Date:10/03/2019 3:35 PM

WOODSTOCK, Ill. – The McHenry County Mental Health Board is stepping in to help fill a funding void for the Child Advocacy Center of McHenry County left by an unintended consequence of well-intentioned criminal justice reform legislation.

The Mental Health Board has tentatively agreed in its 2020 budget to allocate $50,000 to fund the center, which serves children who have been victimized by sexual abuse and other violent crimes. The Child Advocacy Center relied on a dedicated court fee for much of its funding, but a new state fee schedule lowered court fines and fees for lower-income Illinois residents.

“I want to thank the McHenry County Mental Health Board for coming to the Child Advocacy Center’s rescue – it would be unthinkable for such a vital agency to lose funding in the wake of the AJ Freund tragedy,” County Board Chairman Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said. “The Mental Health Board’s outstanding fiscal stewardship and flexibility will allow it to stabilize this agency’s funding while still maintaining a very healthy reserve.”

The Child Advocacy Center, which celebrates its 20th year of service this December, offers timely and comprehensive help to children younger than 18 were there is a suspicion of physical or sexual abuse, or when a child witnesses a violent crime.

Mental Health Board Executive Director Scott Block said the board will formally vote on the funding request at its Oct. 22 meeting. The Mental Health Board funds 30 other agencies in McHenry County that work with people with mental and developmental disabilities.

“The Mental Health Board is actively considering allocating local funding to maintain this invaluable community service,” Block said.

The Child Advocacy Center is a vital resource that needs to be saved, said Chris Christensen, chairman of the County Board Public Health and Community Services Committee.

“I can’t imagine the psychological trauma that is inflicted upon a child whose life is touched by violent crime. I also can’t imagine not having the Child Advocacy Center there for them to offer support. I want to thank the Mental Health Board for its fast action, and for its dedication to helping McHenry County’s most vulnerable,” Christensen, R-Cary, said.

Besides fully funding its client agencies, the Mental Health Board is funding a sober living home, helping build a 24-hour homeless shelter south of McHenry, and is funding distribution of Naxalone to first responders countywide to reduce the number of opioid-related overdose deaths.