QUINCY -- Advocacy Network for Children provides services to help abused and neglected children heal, and financial support from the United Way of Adams County helps make the work possible.
"For our volunteers and our staff, we only have one client and one person we're concerned about. That is that child. We do work with parents, foster parents, caseworkers and teachers involved in the child's life, but the ultimate goal is what is in the best interest of that child," Executive Director Todd Shackelford said. "It's nice to have the support from the United Way so we can have a good solid program with good solid supported volunteers who are looking only to the best interest of that child."
United Way funds support 29 member organizations, including the network, and other community initiatives that will affect more than 34,000 people, or nearly half of the county's total population. Of those served, 63 percent were children.
The Quincy-based network provides child advocacy centers and prevention education programs in nine West-Central Illinois counties -- Adams, Brown, Cass, Hancock, McDonough, Morgan, Pike, Schuyler and Scott -- and a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, program in Adams, Hancock, Morgan and Pike counties.
United Way funding helps pay for staff supporting CASA volunteers who work to make a difference in the life of a child.
"We believe the best volunteers have the best support," Shackelford said.
CASA volunteers work with the courts to find safe permanent homes for children, help children stay in school and do better in school and help end the cycle of abuse and neglect.
"So the evidence is overwhelming in support of having a CASA program and a CASA volunteer in that child's life, and United Way provides that funding," Shackelford said. "It's just amazing what that local support means not only to this office but to the volunteers and to the kids."
United Way support also helps the agency leverage federal funds to support additional services.
"For every $1 of local funds I get, I can leverage $5 of federal funds," Shackelford said. "These federal funds aren't taxpayer dollars. They're fees and fines paid by people who have done something wrong in the federal courts."
Without the United Way, funding the agency's work would be much harder.
"We'd be out fundraising or finding other revenue streams to keep as much federal funds coming into our area as possible," Shackelford said.