Victims advocate returns to work in Johnson Co. after delayed funding in IL

Victims advocate returns to work in Johnson Co. after delayed funding in IL

JOHNSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The victims advocate in Johnson County, Maria Roper, has been reinstated after receiving the money needed to fund the position.

The position helps crime victims navigate through the complicated court system. She deals largely with domestic violence victims, which includes filing orders of protection. Roper also helps connect them with other services they may need, such as counseling or shelter.

According to Roper, the position is paid for by state grants. She was laid off on Aug. 31, 2015, when the county did not receive the money needed from the state. Illinois has been operating without a budget since July 2015, causing services in several counties to scale back or shut down.

Johnson County received its quarterly grant in late December, which meant the victims advocate could begin working again.

While the position was vacant, those needing the service were left to figure out the court system on their own.

"Victim's did suffer while I was gone if they didn't have someone there for support," Roper said. "That's really what I do is offer support, and make it easier to go through the courtroom."

Roper said she is working with law enforcement and the state's attorney's office in order to contact anyone who was in need of her services over the past several months.

Moving forward, Roper said it is still a possibility that state grant money could fail to come through again, meaning she would be laid off a second time.

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