‘We’re in a funding crisis right now’

By RON HARRIS
Posted 1/5/19

Johnny Sudberry stepped into a situation he wasn’t quite expecting

when he assumed the role as director of the Walker County Children’s Advocacy

Center back in October — a shortfall in …

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‘We’re in a funding crisis right now’

Posted

Johnny Sudberry stepped into a situation he wasn’t quite expecting when he assumed the role as director of the Walker County Children’s Advocacy Center back in October — a shortfall in funding that could lead to services being halted in a matter of weeks.

Sudberry said Friday that funding is needed within about six weeks or Children’s Advocacy Center officials may be forced to severely cut back on services offered to its clients.

The issue of a funding shortfall lies primarily with the fact that a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs has yet to be approved, Sudberry said.

“We’re in a funding crisis right now,” because of that, he said.

The ADECA grant is funded through VOCA (Victims of Crime Act), he added.

A similar issue with a funding shortfall plagued the CAC last year, Sudberry said. And sadly, it’s not limited to just the local organization.

“I’ve talked to several other directors around the state, and a lot of them are experiencing the same issues,” he said.

The grant accounts for 80 percent of the Children’s Advocacy Center’s annual budget of approximately $375,000.

The CAC provides the remaining 20 percent needed to keep the doors open. That comes in a variety of ways, Sudberry said, but primarily from private monetary donations and in-kind services.

“Our problem right now is that since Oct. 1, we haven’t had any means of even getting the 80 percent,” he said.

Funding at the CAC is used for a variety of services offered to clients, as well as salaries, office supplies and normal monthly expenses such as power bills, water bills and maintenance costs.

“We’ve got about six weeks before we’ll be at ground zero, unfortunately,” Sudberry said. “That’s not fair to our clients, and it’s not fair to our staff. I’m hoping (the grant) will certainly be approved, but there’s no guarantee of that.”

If that six weeks passes without the grant being approved, Sudberry said several scenarios could play out.

“It could potentially mean shutting the doors,” he said. “We definitely don’t want to do that, and that would be the very last resort. If there are ways we could scale back our services, we might do that.

“The bottom line is that without any income, we can’t pay our bills,” he added.

In the meantime, Sudberry said private donations could go a long way in helping the Children’s Advocacy Center maintain the services it provides.

“Private donations are very critical to helping us,” he said. “We’ve had some very consistent donors, and we hope to maintain those. We heavily rely on our community support.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Children’s Advocacy Center can do so in a variety of ways, including dropping them off at the CAC at 1619 Alabama Avenue or by calling (205) 387-8324. There’s also a link on the Children’s Advocacy Center’s Facebook page, of you can go to the website at walkercountycac.org.

In the past year, the Children’s Advocacy Center has worked with 193 kids under the age of 18 from Walker and Marion counties who have been victims of crimes.

“That’s unthinkable that that many kids have been victims of crimes,” Sudberry said.

Clients at the CAC — as well as their families — are never charged a fee for services.

“And we don’t anticipate ever doing that,” Sudberry said. “The kids and their family are in such a time of crisis and trauma that they don’t need that extra burden of having to worry about having to come up with the money to pay for our services.”

Sudberry said Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair and the district attorney’s office have donated a football signed by University of Alabama coach Nick Saban that will be given away later this week if donations top $5,500 by Tuesday. In order to be eligible to win, you must go to the CAC’s Facebook page, like the page and post a photo of you in your family’s favorite team gear.

“And it doesn’t have to just be Alabama gear,” Sudberry said. “It can be Auburn or any other school, too.”