A new survey conducted by United Way of Illinois documents the impact of Illinois’ record-breaking budget impasse on the human services sector and on people and communities across the state. Data shows that 69% of agencies have received no or only partial payment for services delivered in fiscal year 2017.
“We see the deep and lasting effects of this impasse every day in our schools, in our neighborhoods and in the state’s spiraling reputation. The lack of urgency from the state in coming together to work on a full budget is negligent given rising violence, population decline and the loss of jobs and talent,” said Sonja Reece, Board Chair of United Way of Illinois, the statewide association of 52 local United Ways and the largest non-governmental funder of health and human services in the state. “While stop-gap funding provided limited and temporary relief to some service providers, it did not repair the long-term damage imposed by the lack of a full budget, nor is it funding current service delivery.”
Survey data showed that 46% of agencies have been forced to reduce the number of clients served, with the highest reported declines in the areas of youth development, mental health and job training. “Hospitals, law enforcement, State’s Attorneys, housing and city/community staff are asking when services will start again as they have no other resources to take care of the quite dire situations in their communities,” said Kathy Weiman, CEO of Alternatives in Moline.
Twenty-five percent of respondents have been forced to completely eliminate programs due to the lack of payment from the state. The most significant program cuts were reported in the areas of criminal justice, job training and youth development—programs that were contracted by the state to reduce crime and violence and build the strength of the Illinois economy. “We know investing in our young people and in training for living wage jobs is key not only to solving social challenges like poverty and violence by providing opportunity, but also in growing the local economy,” said Wendy DuBoe, President and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. “Additionally, waiting lists for services and a lack of psychiatric support for the mentally ill results in more expensive interventions down the line.”
Agency respondents reported taking a number of measures to continue delivering services contracted, but not paid for by the state, including eliminating staff, not filling vacant positions, increasing waiting lists and utilizing cash reserves. Survey data shows that private philanthropy cannot plug the hole left by the state, with only 1 in 10 agencies reporting they have replaced 25% or more of the funding owed to them by the State through additional fundraising efforts.
“Private philanthropy can never provide enough resources to solve for the delinquency of the state,” said Reece. “United Ways and generous Illinoisans are doing their best on the private end of the private-public partnership meant to maintain and build well-being in the state, but we currently have no public partner.”
The survey was conducted March 3-March 17, 2017, and responses were received from 463 human services agencies that represent every region in the state and every service category including youth development, domestic violence prevention, mental health, emergency housing, senior services and employment training.
By the way, that 69 percent who report receiving no or only partial payments for services in FY17 is almost double the 35 percent who reported the same thing in Fiscal Year 2016.