The budget impasse is doing more than racking up billions in state debt. It’s also causing social service agencies in Illinois, which serve those most in need, unsustainable pain, according to a United Way survey conducted in early June.
The United Way surveyed 116 social service agencies in northern Illinois, and found that 83% have made cuts to clients served because of lack of state funding, up from 32% a year earlier. Those being hit hardest are agencies which provide childhood education, disability services, and mental health services.
Agencies waiting for payment from the state are owed on average a whopping $650,000, and they cannot sustain that. 59% of agencies reported they will have to cease services to clients within the next six months, with 46% in northern Illinois saying they will have to shut their doors outright.
To stay afloat, about a third of agencies report tapping into lines of credit, resulting in a reported total of more than $20,000,000 in accumulated debt.
Even a ‘stopgap’ budget to keep state government operating does little to help these agencies since Illinois continues to spend more money than it takes in, adding to the bill backlog. Legislators and the Governor are hoping to have a fully funded budget passed after the November election, but the United Way survey indicates many social service agencies which rely on state government funding will be unable to hold on for that long.
“We honestly wished we would have different news” said Kristi Long, United Way of Illinois Board Chair in a news release. “The survey results show accelerating damage since January—more program cuts, more clients left unserved, more debt. The mentally ill, disabled seniors and young children in need of educational opportunities—these people can’t wait for the next election.”
You can read the full northern Illinois and statewide survey here.