From AP - News Headlines -

Agencies Helping Women in Crisis Plan Merger after One Agency Faces Crisis of its Own

State funding problems have prompted two agencies that deal with Champaign County women in crisis to consider consolidating.

A Woman's Fund shelters victims of domestic violence and their children. In July, it and the foundation that funds it expect to be acquired by The Center for Women in Transition, which helps homeless women and children. Last fall A Woman's Fund was almost forced to close when state government payments were backlogged.

But now the group's human resources director, Tara Bossert, says it will be part of a more financially-stable agency, and the merger should be a good fit.

"The services that we provide and the services that the Center for Women in Transition provide are different, yet a lot of our clients overlap and a lot of those clients utilize both services," Bossert said. "So as far as the ease of using those services, we'll just become a better situation for a lot of our clients."

John Sullivan, who directs the Center for Women in Transition, says both agencies serve slightly different purposes, so a consolidation should not lead to job losses.

"The whole goal is to maintain services and make sure domestic violence services remain in our community," said Sullivan. "The staff that are providing those services at the moment, of course we want to keep them on. There may be savings in terms of administration. On the other hand, since we're adding more services, we're going to have to expand our administration."

Still, Sullivan says social service providers in general will see tough times over the next couple of years. He says merger discussions have taken place for about six months, since A Woman's Fund was threatened with the closure.