Free Child Advocate Group May Lose Funding
Berkshire County – A child advocacy group in the Berkshires might have to close its doors because of a last minute announcement from their funding agency. WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief Charlie Deitz has the report.
Berkshire County Educational Associates was set up in 2005 to help parents navigate through the maze of special education programs. The group has managed to wedge itself between two different disciplines, law and education. Their executive director is Stacey Rossi.
Rossi says her organization was slated to receive funding to the order of about 75 thousand dollars from an obscure fund called the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, or IOLTA. BCEA was then told it might be able to get half that amount, but last week they were told they would be getting none.
BCEA's peculiar classification precludes it from state education funding, and since it is considered a startup, BCEA won't be eligible for funding from the Berkshire United Way. If the organization goes dormant, that could mean a heavier load for Berkshire Children and Families, the lead agency for the county.
Berkshire Children and Families has been hit three times. First with Governor Patrick's 9C cuts, then from the house's budget, then again from the conference committee's budget, which cut the entire state budget for child advocacy programs in half, down to about 7 million. But like many non-profits, the recession is creating an increased need for these programs, while reducing funds to support them.