Organizations deliver letter urging state leadership to act quickly to preserve services
CHICAGO – The Ounce of Prevention Fund announced that it has joined a coalition of more than 300 nonprofit organizations across Illinois in calling on Governor Rauner and the General Assembly to work together to pass a fair, adequate and fully funded Fiscal Year 2016 budget before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st. A letter from the nonprofits—representing a cross-section of education, health and human service organizations—was hand delivered today to Governor Rauner, Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leader Durkin, and Leader Radogno, along with many other legislative and administrative leaders. The letter highlights the devastating impact budgetary inaction has and will continue to have on the nonprofits and the children and adults who rely on their programs and support, as well as those services provided directly by the state.
Nonprofit organizations are the backbone of the delivery of state services to families who rely on childcare assistance; individuals with physical, developmental, and/or intellectual disabilities; senior citizens; children and adults with mental illnesses; individuals with HIV; and many more. In addition to the services nonprofits provide on behalf of the state, community-based organizations are significant contributors to the local economy, employing thousands as well as buying goods and services from other local businesses. With July 1st quickly approaching and no state budget in place, nonprofits across the state have no choice but to contemplate and, in some cases execute, plans to terminate services, lay off staff and close service sites.
“When the state government is in a stalemate, it is our most vulnerable citizens and the organizations who serve them that pay the highest price. But these children and families, and these organizations, are our friends, our families, our neighbors, our communities. When they suffer, we all pay the price in the short- and long-term,” said Elliot Regenstein, senior vice president of advocacy and policy, Ounce of Prevention Fund. “Already we are seeing the consequences of not having a fair, fully-funded budget, with partners like Family Focus and Easter Seals Central Illinois reducing or making plans to reduce staff and services. They are just two organizations of the hundreds being forced to make these difficult, devastating decisions.”
Family Focus offers a wide range of family support programs for children and families, plus outreach, referral and crisis services at 7 direct service centers in low-income communities throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.
“If the state does not have an approved budget on July 1, we will have to immediately suspend services to more than 3,600 people and lay off 50 staff. Working families cannot afford continued cuts—they need these critical supports to effectively contribute to our economy,” said Mariana Osoria, center director of Family Focus – Nuestra Familia.
The impact of the budget impasse will be felt throughout the state. For example, Easter Seals Central Illinois will have to suspend its Child and Family Connections-Early Intervention service coordination if there is no budget in place by July 1. According to Jim Runyon, executive vice president of strategic initiatives, governmental affairs, & grants, the organization will have to furlough 37 staff and 1,600 families and their children will see their Early Intervention support services suspended until a resolution is reached.
To learn more about the urgency to pass a budget that serves all of Illinois, including the sustainable revenue needed to fund the programs families need, and to view the complete letter, please visit theOunce.org.
About the Ounce of Prevention Fund
The Ounce of Prevention Fund is a private-public partnership dedicated to providing all children – especially those from low income families – with high-quality early childhood experiences from birth to age 5. The Ounce aims to be the nation’s trusted source for early childhood research and program models that focus on the physical, social and emotional development of children from birth to age five. To give children and families most in-need the best chance for success, the Ounce develops programs, conducts research, trains educators and strongly advocates for early childhood education. Our early childhood programs, such as Educare, have created national models of high-quality early childhood education, ensuring that more children have access to opportunities best suited for their future success.