Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Social Service Groups Improvise as State Funding Falls Behind

CHICAGO -- When the owner of a southern Illinois child care center didn't get the state funding he was promised on time and faced laying off employees and cutting service to low-income children, he borrowed money from family members to get by.
When a suburban Chicago center helping disabled people live independently didn’t get its state money quickly, employees waited three months for a paycheck so clients wouldn't feel the pinch.
And when an Elgin domestic abuse program was left with stacks of unpaid bills and no sign of when the money would come from the state, workers took four weeks of unpaid furlough days, especially difficult for employees earning $25,000 a year.
They are among the thousands of community groups and charities making up Illinois' system for providing human services: the state contracts out the work and agrees to make reimbursements. But as Illinois' budget crisis worsens and the state lags further behind in paying bills, those that serve the state's neediest are forced to make dire decisions and at-times heroic sacrifices to pick up the slack.

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