With Illinois’ higher ed system on the brink of collapse due to the lack of a budget, it’s natural that a higher ed fix is at top of mind for the governor, lawmakers and the media. But it’s worth remembering that for every high profile budget hostage (like MAP grant recipients and higher ed institutions) there are thousands of individual untold stories of lives impacted, and in some cases ruined, by the lack of a fully funded state budget.
Today, Voices for Illinois Children released an update to our September report outlining the devastating human impact the budget impasse continues to have on children, families and communities. It provides a useful closer look at some of the pain the ongoing budget stand-off is causing in relation to 60 line items across the state, particularly for seniors, children and underserved families.
By all accounts (that I’ve heard, anyway) it seems likely that this year’s budget stand-off will creep well in to the next fiscal year, leaving these programs, and the families they serve, unfunded for an indefinite amount of time. That’s unconscionable.
The crisis of the day is the destruction of our higher education system, but we shouldn’t forget the other foreseeable and preventable results of not having a fully-funded budget, including:
HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Services: The Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative, a program that works with medical providers statewide to ensure that pregnant women who are HIV-positive deliver HIV-negative babies, will close its doors in October of 2016 unless funding is restored. The program saves the state about $35 million each year, and without it, there will be babies who could have been born HIV-negative that will be born HIV-positive.
The Autism Project of Illinois: Nearly 1,800 families across the state have either lost services or are at risk of losing critical autism services after TAP closed its doors on September 30, 2015. Previously, TAP was a national leader in providing services and supports to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One in 68 children has been identified as having ASD by the Centers for Disease Control.
Home-delivered Meals for Seniors: Roughly 3,200 seniors have lost home-delivered meal services statewide. In DuPage County, the DuPage Senior Citizens Council has cut program staff by 55% and has closed its community dining program. In Rockford, 250 meal slots have been eliminated, bringing the number of seniors on the wait list for meals to 400. A Rockford provider, Lifescape Community Services, reports serving 17,000 fewer meals in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015.
Sexual Assault Services and Prevention: All 29 agencies serving survivors of sexual assault have instituted furloughs and left staff vacancies unfilled. Agencies across the state have instituted waitlists for counseling services. One center reports 65 survivors are on a waiting list for critical trauma-centered sexual assault counseling services in Chicago alone.
Substance Abuse and Prevention Programs: Approximately 47,000 individuals across the state have been denied services or have had reduced service delivery, and most providers have a waiting list of 3 months or longer. That leaves many adults with substance abuse disorders at risk of entering the criminal justice system—a much more costly outcome for the state.
Centers for Independent Living: In FY14, Centers for Independent Living (CIL) served 95 of Illinois’ 102 counties, equipping people with disabilities with resources, supports, and skills to live independently. CILs across the state, including Chicago, Swansea, Joliet, and Alton, have instituted furloughs and layoffs, jeopardizing the roughly 63,430 direct services and information and referrals that were provided in FY14.
Support Services for Seniors: Home Care and Adult Day Care have been especially hard hit. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois closed 7 home care and adult day care centers, eliminating services for 2,355 seniors in Canton, Chicago, DeKalb, Freeport, Moline, Peoria and Rockford. LSSI also cut case management and adult protective services programs for 2,713 seniors in Sterling, IL. The lack of state investment in home care services leaves more than 25,000 seniors at risk of losing services across Cook and Lake Counties.