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New United Way survey finds the problem is getting worse

Thursday, Apr 6, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

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.

The survey is here.

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.


  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 9:33 am:

    Depends on your point of view.

    If your plan is to to act in bad faith, take advantage of Illinois contractors, get something for nothing, and squeeze the beast to kill off many providers, the “problem” is not “getting worse,” the objectives are being achieved.

    The governor is not an idiot. He’s well aware of the predictable consequences of his actions. It’s the plan in action.

  2. - PublicServant - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 9:42 am:

    What were the percentages reporting “No or Partial Payments” for FY15, FY14? I’m asking because it might provide information in determination of who is responsible for the underfunding, which may help in putting the pressure where it belongs.

  3. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 9:43 am:

    Rauner supporters don’t care. This stuff won’t move them away from supporting a governor who promised to go after government leaches, cronies and Democrats.

    Rauner supporters are anti-government. There is no time to educate them away from these beliefs. Its not what motivates them to support Rauner.

    To reach Rauner hold-outs, you have to speak their language.

    You tell them that their taxes are being wasted, government debt is exploding, because Rauner failed to do what he promised to do. Instead of finding fixes and solutions, Rauner argued and sabotaged fixes and solutions. Instead of cutting taxes, Rauner ensured that they would increase dramatically by failing to present a balanced budget or to govern. Instead of reforming our government, Rauner is ignoring government.

    This United Way survey speaks to those who believe in government. Rauner and his groupies aren’t in favor of government and won’t vote him out until those of us who understand the role government ought to play in our lives, connect with them in words that will cost Rauner reelection.

  4. - Earnest - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 9:49 am:

    And yet, the state is now sending out FY18 contracts to providers.

    I would never have imagined Rauner’s strategy could be so effective. I never would have imagined the IDP could be so ineffective–one would almost think they lack the motivation to fight for social services.

  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    ===Rauner supporters don’t care===

    Strong Rauner supporters are only 11 percent of the electorate, according to the Paul Simon Institute poll.

  6. - BobO - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:01 am:

    To the dismay of the current administration, payments required as a result of federal decrees have prevented a 100% meltdown of needed human services in Illinois.

    This is little consolation to those services already impacted. However, if the budget impasse is not solved for another two years, Illinois will not be able to make good on the the required payments as well.

    The governor will finally get the complete meltdown he was hoping for. By then, all the charitable non profits will be out-of-business. Contracts can then be given to the big-box companies looking to make a profit in the social service arena. Isn’t that the ultimate end game?

  7. - independent - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:02 am:

    Its good to know that the Governor has the best interests of our citizens in mind. I mean how dare we pay those pesky Human Service providers and Universities who are trying to help all Illinois citizens reach their full potential. Instead we can push to lower wages, benefits, work rules and push those pesky college students out of our state. We can also push more seniors into nursing homes, more mentally ill people into the criminal justice system. Whats not to like.

  8. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:13 am:

    Libertarians look at it and say, It is good.

  9. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:14 am:

    It boggles my mind that someone would think this is necessarily better, in the long run, than agreeing to the doable and working within the current political constraints to get a budget deal with reforms the larger opposition is willing to give.

  10. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:22 am:

    VanillaMan - you’re right, but that’s the other hostage taking going on here: the Democrats point the gun at the baby’s head and say “See, you will give us what we want: over-generous union benefits, a rigged political system (for both legislators and judges), etc. and you’ll pay it, because if you don’t we’ll let the baby die.

    Both sides are being driven by special interests here. That average IL family I keep mentioning with the $60,000/year income will grudgingly support the increased taxes, which will be PAINFUL, to keep the state infrastructure in tact, but they deserve to get more back than even the Grand Bargain. In a sane, healthier state, they would.

  11. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:29 am:

    “Data shows that 69% of agencies have received no or only partial payment for services delivered in fiscal year 2017. *** 46% of agencies have been forced to reduce the number of clients served *** 25% of respondents have been forced to completely eliminate programs due to the lack of payment from the state.”
    – United Way of Illinois, April 6, 2017.

    “In Illinois there’s been a long-time history of what I would call social service, social justice, a bigger role for government in the safety net than in many other states. I think we can drive a wedge issue in the Democratic Party on that topic”
    — Bruce Rauner, September 18, 2012.

    In the eyes of Bruce Rauner, United Way human services agencies are political wedges. And wedges get hammered.

    This is, and has always been, The Plan.

    – MrJM

  12. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:30 am:

    Earnest, Rauner’s “success” in this area is due in large part to a neglect by the great majority of Illinois media that smacks of complicity.

    A couple days ago the Responsible Budget Coalition put out a lengthy report on the real-world horrors of squeeze the beast. It was an absolute spoon-feeding of the macro situation.

    Do a google search and you’ll see that it got play here, Bernies column, a Crains blog, Reboot and Chicagoist.

    That’s it.

    The last United Way report got no play. Let’s see how this one goes.

  13. - Montrose - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:42 am:

    To Wordslinger’s point, I hope the UW survey results get some play in the media. I will be pleasantly surprised if they do, particularly if the media asks pointed questions of Rauner about it. I’m not holding my breath.

  14. - illini - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    Wordslinger is exactly correct.

    And I posited that that would be the case with the RBC report - not a single mention in any downstate papers !

  15. - Earnest - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    >neglect by the great majority of Illinois media that smacks of complicity.

    That’s a very astute point. There’s so much fodder out there for great stories…people laid off due to the state’s late payments, people’s lives affected by losing needed services…and they can’t even rise to the use of information gathered and fed right to them. There’s also great ammunition for the IDP here and they aren’t doing much with it either.

  16. - A Jack - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    Yet Munger hasn’t missed a paycheck for her contract. I guess in Rauner’s world, not all contracts are created equal.

  17. - Markus - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 11:33 am:

    CMS should be barred from entering into contracts for FY18 that are not related to services covered by court orders or continuing appropriations. It seems like the GA could make this happen fairly easily.

  18. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    The last United Way survey showed that one million Illinois citizens had been denied services due to the state reneging on contracts.

    By any journalistic standards, that’s a Page One above-the-fold, broadcast lead story.

    The fact that it got virtually no play at all leads me to believe that coverage decisions are being made for reasons other than newsworthiness.

  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 12:02 pm:

    ===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===

    United Ways are nothing but middlemen who take a cut off the top for collecting donations for peoples preferred charities.

    Calling it a funder is like calling Rocky Wirtz a brewer/distiller.

  20. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 12:04 pm:

    I dunno if going after the United Way is the best way to discredit the United Way numbers.

    Good try thou.

  21. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 1:19 pm:

    Perhaps there’s something more impotent & ineffective than an anonymous ad hominem attack on the United Way, but I sure can’t think of one right now.

    – MrJM

  22. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    –United Ways are nothing but middlemen who take a cut off the top for collecting donations for peoples preferred charities.–

    Unite Way isn’t talking about “donations” here. They’re talking about the state stiffing providers for services rendered under contract.

    But your attempted distraction from that willful deadbeatism is duly noted.

  23. - Ron - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 3:11 pm:

    I’m a Rauner supporter and I’m not anti-government per se, I’m anti-Illinois government. Especially outrageous public employee pensions.

  24. - walker - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 3:35 pm:

    This is a survey of service providers by United Way. Its data have proven accurate and valuable previously. Arguing about UW itself is a red herring.

  25. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 6, 17 @ 5:27 pm:

    Communism is just a red herring.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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