Some southern IL Big Brother Big Sister locations to close due to budget

Some southern IL Big Brother Big Sister locations to close due to budget
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Centerstone in southern Illinois announced it will be closing its Big Brother Big Sister locations due to the current budget impasse.

The closures in southern Illinois will impact youth, volunteers and supporters in Jackson, Franklin, Union, Perry and Williamson Counties.

Centerstone announced it will consolidate some its other operations due to the state budget crisis. The consolidations will mean its resources can be focused on critical and life-saving services.

An office in Jerseyville, Ill. will be closed, effective April 1, and its services relocated to Alton. Centerstone said it will continue to provide residential, crisis, community and school-based services in Jersey, Calhoun and Greene Counties.

The non-profit will also eliminate several open administrative positions and review the sale of under-utilized facilities.

Staff in the impacted programs will be offered other open positions in the organization.

"These were difficult decisions for our board to make," said Sally Sheahan, president of Centerstone's Illinois board of directors. "For the long-term sustainability of Centerstone's operations, we cannot continue to mount losses related to state contracts any longer. This consolidation will protect jobs and the essential, life-saving services we offer, but even these measures will not sustain us if this budget impasse is not resolved. We urge our lawmakers to take action now to halt the damage occurring to the fragile behavioral health system in Illinois."

According to Kathryn Sime, spokesperson for Centerstone, the state owes Centerstone $4.5 million.

She said, unfortunately, the board of directors made the painful decision a week ago to close Big Brothers Big Sisters of southern Illinois.

Sime said staff members were made aware of the decision on Monday and it was publicly announced on Tuesday.

Currently in the program, Sime said there are 59 "littles," some of whom weren't matched with a "big brother" or "big sister," and four staff members. She said no one is being let go, but they are being moved to other positions in other services that are needed.

"One of the best things about BBBS, we know and want to honor that we'll be working close to figure out what the next step is," Sime said. "Will be working with each match to find out what the match is for them. It will be a cause by case discussion as to how to support this transition."

Sime said it's hard to say if the program will come back, they have had positive discussions with BBBS of America. She said they are grateful for the work that the "Bigs" have done.

State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) released the following statement on Tuesday:

"Unacceptable is an understatement. Not only is this yet another example of our most vulnerable populations being dumped on by this impasse, we are also losing more jobs. This governor is playing games with us here, and Southern Illinois is the loser. This essential program allows our youth the opportunity to grow. This closure will strike another blow to those in our community."

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved.