4 local agencies to get UI money from Penn State settlement

4 local agencies to get UI money from Penn State settlement

Four agencies that help families with the trauma of child abuse will share money that the University of Illinois received from a legal settlement between the Big Ten and Pennsylvania State University in the Jerry Sandusky case.

The UI received $188,000 in the settlement, reached following the conviction of Sandusky, former assistant Penn State football coach, for sexually abusing children.

The university asked the United Way of Champaign County to help distribute the money. It will go to four organizations, each of which will receive $44,586: the Children's Advocacy Center of Champaign County, the Court Appointed Special Advocate program, Crisis Nursery, and Rape Advocacy, Counseling and Education Services.

The United Way is recommending that $10,000 of the funding be set aside for the four entities to work together with United Way to provide a program for the community focusing on education and awareness.

Under the arrangement, the United Way has agreed to waive any grant-management fees and to monitor how the agencies use the money. The United Way then is to report those results to the university.

"All of these organizations serve a critical need in our community — protecting children — and the money will be used to enhance or expand their services," Chancellor Phyllis Wise said in a release. "The settlement is the result of a tragedy, but the hope is these gifts will serve a positive purpose and change people's lives."

Adelaide Aime, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center in Urbana, said she has "100 ideas" for how to use the money. She just learned of the grant Friday afternoon.

"The families that walk through our door have so many needs," she said.

"Although we understand that there were very sad circumstances that led to this opportunity, we're glad that we're going to be able to help more families and help them in better ways than we were before," Aime said.

The advocacy center is the first point of contact for children involved in allegations of sexual abuse or severe physical abuse. A multidisciplinary team works closely together to put the child's needs first, Aime said, including a therapist, case manager and representatives from law enforcement and the Department of Children and Family Services.

It offers a child-friendly, homey facility where children can be interviewed, so they don't have to go to the police station. And the sessions are taped so they only have to go through the story once.

The center also provides services for other family members affected by the events.

"It just turns their lives upside-down," she said. "Our focus is on the family from the beginning of the allegation and guiding them through that, and trying to minimize the trauma on the child."