The state has restored funding for one of the programs Children's Home and Aid cut two years ago, the Butterfly Project.
Lisa Pieper, the regional CEO of Children's Home and Aid in Bloomington-Normal and the surrounding counties, said The Butterfly Project serves children aged birth to 5 who have been exposed to family violence of some sort.
"Witnessing that violence between the two people that they love who are supposed to be able to take care of them and have their interests at heart is terribly harmful to a child," said Pieper.
The restoration of a contract worth nearly $125,000 per year will allow Children's Home and Aid to hire two master's-level people to run the program and help up to 30 children at a time.
"Once that damage has been done, you can't undo that. What we're going to attempt to do is minimize the actual impact so these children are not traumatized further on in their lives beyond that actual incident," said Pieper.
The agency said hundreds of area children are exposed to violence each year. Symptoms can include changes in eating habits, trouble forming relationships, anxiety, aggression and difficulty concentrating.
“This critical service is the only one of its kind in the area,” said Program Manager Tiffanny Powell.
Pieper said McLean County is fortunate in that it still has the infrastructure to support the program. She said in many parts of the state agencies closed and there is no one now able to resume performing the work of the renewed state contracts.
“With restored funding, we are going to be able to positively impact the lives of many more local children and create brighter futures for families who desperately need help coping with the trauma that comes with exposure to violence,” said Powell.
The program offers individual and family counseling to the child and parents, child and family support groups, assistance with access to community resources for children and families exposed to violence, and community events and education about childhood exposure to violence.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.