Dear Friends and Supporters,
I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the very important work United Way of Metropolitan Chicago has been doing on behalf of our partner agencies and the human services sector as a whole.
As many of you are aware, these are unique and challenging times for our human service agencies and the people who rely on them. We are now in our ninth month without a state budget and the outlook for the health and even survival of the human services infrastructure across our state is at a tipping point.
The organizations that provide food, shelter, educational support, job training, mental and physical health care, disability support and many other programs and services to those in need are drastically cutting programs, having to let go of highly trained staff and going into considerable debt in order to remain operational.
Working closely with United Way of Illinois, the state membership organization of 52 United Ways, we have administered three state-wide surveys since the beginning of the budget impasse in July and worked to share the results with government leaders and the media to demonstrate the damage being done to vulnerable populations and the human services infrastructure.
Our most recent survey in late January had more than 444 agencies responding, and shows that the human services sector as a whole has sustained deep damage that will be difficult to come back from when there is a budget.
Among the key findings:
- 85% of responding agencies had cut the number of clients they serve
- 84% of respondents had cut programs; cuts to programs serving the mentally ill and the disabled had increased dramatically since July 2015 and cuts to programs serving seniors, children and adults seeking education or employment had more than tripled
- 23% of agencies reported they would struggle to operate at existing levels if the budget impasse continued through this month
While in Springfield in late January, delegates from United Way of Illinois met with more than 20 government leaders across all caucuses, sharing these results and asking for compromise and action toward a budget resolution. While leaders were surprised and concerned at the levels and pace of the deterioration in human services, there remained significant entrenchment with regard to each party’s position.
Our message—which we ask you to share—is that our leaders must work together to pass a budget for the good of the state and the well-being of its residents. Your voices are critical in demonstrating to state leaders that Illinois taxpayers care about effective governing and about a healthy human services sector.
Should you have questions or like more information, please contact Jack Kaplan, Director of Public Policy & Advocacy for United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and United Way of Illinois at Jack.Kaplan@uw-mc.org.
All the best,