Durbin Secures $800,000 for Metropolitan Family Services to Train Professionals Responding to Gun Violence

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited Metropolitan Family Services’ (MFS) Midway Center (the Fetzer Family Center) to discuss $800,000 in federal funding he secured through Congressionally Directed Spending—more commonly known as an earmark—in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) omnibus appropriations bill for MFS to expand training for professionals involved in addressing and responding to incidences of gun violence, as well as provide additional health and wellness resources for the staff, participants and larger community working to reduce violence and gang activity in Chicago.

“If we want to address gun violence from a trauma-centered perspective, one of the key ways to do it is to partner with community-based organizations whose outreach workers live and work in the communities they serve,” Durbin said. “These organizations are in the best position to provide the victim services and wraparound supports that people dealing with trauma so desperately need. We know that trauma is at the root of so much pain and conflict in our neighborhoods, with a recent study finding 50 percent of Chicago residents have witnessed violence.”

“This year, with Senator Durbin’s support, Metropolitan Family Services will open the Metropolitan Peace Academy Training and Wellness Center,” MFS President and CEO Ric Estrada said. “This new center will allow Metropolitan Peace Initiatives to double our community violence intervention work in street outreach, case management and victim advocacy training. Together, with our legislative and community partners, we proactively work to address the generational trauma and public safety crisis our neighbors experience.”

The federal funding announced today will also help MFS expand training for the professionals doing this essential work and expand training for Chicago police officers in how to share best practices and strengthen coordination with Communities Partnering 4 Peace. MFS will also be able to expand health and wellness resources for staff and participants—who face their own direct and secondary traumas from the work they do.

In June 2022, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) into law.  In addition to gun safety reforms, BSCA provides:

  • $750 million in funding for state red flag law and crisis intervention program implementation, including $9.5 million that was awarded to Illinois.
  • $250 million in funding for community violence intervention programs, including $2 million for Metropolitan Family Services and $1.75 million for Heartland Alliance in Chicago.
  • More than $3 billion for school-based mental health and trauma-informed care, including two funding streams to Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois State Board of Education totaling over $14 million in SAMHSA and Department of Education funds. 

In 2018, Durbin convened 10 of the leading hospitals in Chicago to create the Chicago HEAL Initiative (Hospital Engagement, Action, and Leadership), a collaboration between major Chicago hospitals to make tangible commitments to reduce gun violence, heal the physical and mental trauma that violence inflicts on victims, increase well-paying jobs, and create other economic opportunities in the neighborhoods these hospitals serve.

Founded in 1857 as the Chicago Relief and Aid Society, MFS provides programs for low-income and working-poor families, including child and youth development programs, counseling, mental health assistance, legal aid, and violence prevention initiatives.  It has more than 1,100 staff working primarily in ten major community centers in the Chicagoland area, and it serves more than 136,000 families and individuals.