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“Mass layoffs” by budget hostage

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* From Sarah Holliday at Family Focus…


At the urging of colleagues, I am writing to share news of a mass layoff at our social service agency, Family Focus.

Family Focus has been providing early childhood development programs in the Chicagoland area for more than 40 years. We currently serve 17,000 people annually in Chicago, Aurora, Cicero, DuPage County, Evanston, and Highland Park/Highwood. We help families make sure their children meet developmental milestones and are ready for school on time. We provide parenting education to DCFS families, drastically reducing the percentage of parents that reengage with the system. Our centers have been a cornerstone of the communities we serve for many years.

We are heartbroken that we have to take this step and we hope that our partner organizations can be saved from this pain. So, we are sharing our story in the hopes that it may move someone in a position to help bring an end to this impasse. I attached a letter from our CEO, Merri Ex, explaining the steps we are taking.

On a personal note, I’ve been reading Capitol Fax since I started working with our state contracts. The information you’ve posted has helped us plan as much as was possible over the past two years, and your work is much appreciated.

Thank you,


* The attached letter from the CEO is here.

According to the CEO, the state owes Family Focus $2.7 million. They’re laying off 100 employees, about 71 percent of their staff. They’ve taken out emergency loans from board members and key donors, but it hasn’t been enough. They’re experiencing an extreme cash flow crisis and have to slash costs.

You can learn more about this group by clicking here and here.

This state makes me want to scream.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Way Northsider - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 3:51 pm:

    Sad! There really are no other words.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 3:54 pm:

    ===Family Focus has been providing early childhood development programs in the Chicagoland area for more than 40 years===

    Diana Rauner, President of The Ounce, called this a business decision.

  3. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 3:56 pm:

    Bruce is happy though, thank goodness.

  4. - SinkingShip - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 3:59 pm:

    A family member of mine used to do work for Family Focus years ago. Good people doing good things for good reasons. They offer real help to people who need it. Family Focus and the people that make it possible deserve better than this.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    To the Post,

    It angers me to know end that “short term pain for big long term gain” is to outright fool pillar institutions into dissolving because the wedge between social services and unions, as Rauner described is the lever to be this destructive.

    This isn’t an accident, this isn’t just governing gone off the rails. This is gross purposeful “negligence” that whenever can withstand this thumping will have the “pleasure” to trust this Administration again and try to serve those in dire need of services.

    The Republican members who know they are not strong enough to save institutions like these, this is your legacy, not anyone elses. Choosing “winners and losers” by a Darwinian shell game that put trust out there as the double-cross

    That’s real. That’s the Rauner legacy.

  6. - Amalia - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    if you are a person of little or modest means, you have to be sure not to get/or get someone pregnant. you cannot afford to have children because services are being cut. Oh, wait, the Republicans, at all levels, want to cut birth control access too! wonder what to do now? deeply depressing.

  7. - P. - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:11 pm:

    This is very sad but please assign some blame or this is going to continue unabated. It’s incredibly frustrating seeing these agencies go down in flames and no one says boo. The time to be polite and worry about the consequences of offending the wrong person is over.

  8. - Just Me - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:18 pm:

    Our leaders don’t care about groups like this. They care about “winning” and “losing.”

  9. - CCP Hostage - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    Bruce Rauner said it himself, he feels energized by stories like this. As a hostage and part of the community of hostages, I’ve largely quit sharing my pain because it doesn’t do me or the people I serve any good. It just further energizes those who want to see this pain. I have seen people actually smile when I and others have talked about the pain this impasse is causing. So I’m not sharing until the very end, as the rest of these hostages are doing.

  10. - Demoralized - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    I have no idea how any of our “leaders” sleep at night.

  11. - ILGOV2018 - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:23 pm:

    But, but, Bruce Rauner has no social agenda. Diana Rauner said so.

  12. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:23 pm:

    So just to be clear in this example, like many others: over the last two years, the Rauner administration signed and then reneged on $2.7 million in contracts because of actions taken “decades and decades ago.”

    If Rauner can get some of the people, all of the time to buy that dingbatism, no wonder he’s so happy every day.

    And his lockstep GOP caucuses are complicit, He could not have done it without them.

  13. - Amalia - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:28 pm:

    “If Rauner can get some of the people, all of the time to buy that dingbatism, no wonder he’s so happy every day.” - Wordslinger

    Governor of Dingbatistan

  14. - Now What? - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:39 pm:

    Being an educator, I’ve witnessed first hand the benefits of Family Focus and the hard work that their staff effortlessly put forth for kids and families. The repercussion of this will be devastating to many and it is unforgivable what the governor has done to this and other organizations that do so much with so little. My union and my pension have nothing to do with this: stop scapegoating my profession and other public entities, governor.

  15. - CCP Hostage - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:42 pm:

    And I have to believe that someday, there will be some measure of justice for all of this.

  16. - illini - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:49 pm:

    Second attempt to post -

    I would honestly like to know if there are any private agencies that have contracted with the State to provide services that have not been impacted by this crisis.

    Are there any that have not had to lay off workers, curtail or eliminate programs and leave the most needy in our state without any support system?

    These stories are becoming disturbingly frequent and are far too similar.

    If anyone can help, please share with us a story about about any agency that is doing well under these circumstances.

  17. - Sewin' and Reapin' - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:51 pm:

    “She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who hate the ‘welfare state,’ who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts.”

    –Gore Vidal, on Ayn Rand, 1961.

    Very prophetic. What’s changed since 1961 is that the followers of Ayn Rand (such as Rauner) no longer feel any guilt for their selfishness and now their hearts are cold and hard as iron. People are suffering, and Bruce has never been happier.

  18. - Chicago 20 - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:52 pm:

    -”And I have to believe that someday, there will be some measure of justice for all of this.”

    We can’t sue public officials for poor decisions but can we sue for willfull neglect?

  19. - Helpless and hopeless - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 4:57 pm:

    Leader Durkin said in his press conference today that “we talk about people who are impacted by the budget,” but sometimes “it’s important to realize that we have good employers in Illinois” and that sometimes their “voices are left unheard.” Too bad this “leader” doesn’t think that social service agencies are employers AND that there are employees and their families being impacted.

  20. - P. - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 5:11 pm:

    Social service agencies are small businesses. There’s a massive, disturbing disconnect on the Republican side.

  21. - Anon221 - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 5:13 pm:

    The video is not available yet, but when it is, watch Dr. Rauner’s address to the City Club today when you have a chance. She feels that the way early childhood services are funded is stupid. Her word, not mine. But she said while she recognizes Illinous has a funding problem, let’s take a look at national numbers instead. She also humbly acknowledged that The Ounce has had some reimbursement problems a couple of times over the last decade. Oh, and lest I forget to add, she also acknowledged in public that this was a education, economic , AND social problem. The Q and A was about as softball as her husband’s Uncommon Knowledge interview, too.

  22. - CCP Hostage - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 5:14 pm:

    illini, we’re all hurting. All hostages are hurting. But I will not give anyone joy from my pain until it can be avoided, so no details any more. I suspect that some agencies are getting regular payments to relieve some of the pressure, but they won’t be bragging about it.

  23. - Last Bull Moose - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 5:23 pm:

    I was surprised to read that they were serving DCFS children and still were $2.7 million in arrears. The DCFS contracts at least had the legitimacy of a court order behind them even if no appropriation.

  24. - Winnin' - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 5:37 pm:

    And, as Mrs. Rauner gleefully reports, she’s never seen Bruce so happy!!

  25. - Cleric dcn - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 5:49 pm:

    Bruce is very happy he has his Harley and 190 million income. What else is there to complain about. His medical is covered.

  26. - Cobra - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 5:57 pm:

    Just another day of class warfare in the United States, nothing to see here folks.

  27. - OurMagician - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 6:09 pm:

    Finger point, finger point, finger point. How about realizing your thumb is the key finger? When you are pointing out all that others do wrong, you’re thumb is pointing back at the real problem. Every single member of the legislature and state wide elections should be held to a higher standard. Re-elect no one, none of them deserve it or have earned it.

  28. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 6:35 pm:

    I repeat myself, but here goes: Illinois never saw this type of thing until Rauner came along.

    He is the dividing line between a troubled, poorly-managed state and the complete wreck we see today.

    It is not “our leaders” or “the politicians”, it is Rauner. Nothing like this before him.

  29. - walker - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 6:40 pm:

    “Privatization” only works as a government strategy, for these Raunerites, if the contract is with a for-profit company.

    Not-for-profit organization are not seen as the employers, or small businesses that they are.

  30. - Macbeth - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 7:19 pm:

    Rauner miscalculated. He was — and is — simply wrong.

    This is awful — and it’s squarely — squarely — on Rauner’s shoulders.

    He has no idea what he’s doing.

  31. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 7:20 pm:

    –He has no idea what he’s doing.–

    After 2.5 years? With no attempt to mitigate the continuing damage?

    He knows exactly what he’s doing. That’s why he’s been so successful at it?

  32. - Emily Miller - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 8:10 pm:

    ==I would honestly like to know if there are any private agencies that have contracted with the State to provide services that have not been impacted by this crisis.==


  33. - illini - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 8:19 pm:

    @EmilyMiller - Your pointed response says it all.

    And thank you for what you do for all of us.

  34. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 8:21 pm:

    - Emily Miller -,

    Thank you, and some many others, that continue to put forward the damage that’s being done and advocating for relief of social services when many might not.

    While this current situation, these past 2 1/2 years included, may be getting to a budgetary end (hopefully, thinking positively) some of the real hard work might be in trying to rebuild after these recent events pass.

  35. - Southwestsider - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 8:23 pm:

    This thread is too anti-Rauner. This fiasco is not “squarely on Rauner’s shoulders.” I would say the opposite. Republicans and those who advocate balanced budgets and funded pensions are not going away.

  36. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 8:28 pm:

    –I would say the opposite. Republicans and those who advocate balanced budgets and funded pensions are not going away.–

    By “advocate,” do you mean talk and talk and talk and talk and talk……

    Are you sure Republicans want “funded pensions” these days? I’m pretty sure “no pensions,” current or future, is the game plan.

  37. - illini - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 8:33 pm:

    @Southwestsider - A balanced budget would add an element of certainty to our states finances. No one would disagree.

    But what our Governor and his bought and paid for caucuses in the GA seem to forget is that real actual additional revenue is a requirement, not a wish. And the “smoke and mirrors” budgets we see from the Raunerites are nothing but a joke.

  38. - Honeybear - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 8:55 pm:

    Honestly, I don’t know what to say or do anymore. I feel rather numb. It’s like I’m just waiting for “it” to happen.

  39. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 9:02 pm:

    HB, “it” is and has been happening for some time, intentionally. The numbers don’t lie.

    Breaking contracts and willingly running up billions in operating debt you never intend to repay is Boss Rauner’s Illinois GOP.

  40. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 9:24 pm:

    “Republicans and those who advocate balanced budgets and funded pensions are not going away.”

    Where did all the Republicans who paid their bills go?

    I miss them.

    – MrJM

  41. - Ed Higher - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 9:49 pm:

    Just awful. More human sacrifices offered to the disdainful, indolent gods of politics.

  42. - Ed Higher - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 9:57 pm:

    ====This thread is too anti-Rauner.

    Sure, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and the governor certainly doesn’t hold all the power. But any power he has held has gone almost completely to waste, and his term has brought great harm to the people of the state.

  43. - Barrington - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 10:00 pm:

    Family Focus is an excellent organization that has had a positive impact on many lives. It’s hard to read about their troubles and even harder to think of the many more social service agencies in the same situation. Not sure how either Rauner can look at themselves in the mirror.

  44. - DeseDemDose - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 11:26 pm:

    It’s inconceivable that Diane and Bruce can even look in the mirror much less stand in front of the citizens of Illinois and continue the non stop charade of lies.

  45. - DuPage Bard - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 11:50 pm:

    Happiest I’ve ever been……….
    I’ll leave that there

  46. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 3:02 am:

    The governor himself is saying equivocal and soothing things, but his shills are shrill and strident. They say that Illinois should not raise taxes, should not meet the basic needs of its citizens nor its legal obligations to creditors, pensioners, and others. The shills compare Illinois to Texas. I do not know much about Texas, but I think the better comparison would be to Weimar Germany. If you deprive kids of their school lunches, battered women of their shelters, and if you destroy creditors and others to whom money is owed, then you put a bomb under society. Who knows what will happen in Illinois if the state government collapses? And it will collapse if they do not do a budget deal by the end of the month.

  47. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 4:20 am:

    The Rauner plan on cost savings! Let them eat cake.

  48. - Anon - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 7:51 am:

    Word on the street is that Rauner doesn’t want a budget so he can start layoffs on state workers.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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