As lawmakers in Springfield continue to battle over the state budget, there is growing concern around Illinois that the impact of the problem will be most-strongly felt by those who are already the most vulnerable. A significant number of outreach and support programs around Illinois rely heavily, if not solely, on state funding, and without a budget are finding it increasingly difficult to carry out their missions. These include programs for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, after-school services for at-risk children, crime victim counseling, and home care for senior citizens.
Providers of social services have been largely working without state funding since the budget failed to gain approval last July. For the last eight months, organizations such as Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and Senior Services of Will County have been struggling to make ends meet while trying to attend to the increasing needs of an ever-growing client base. The Will County non-profit alone is currently awaiting nearly a third of million dollars in payments due from the state for services already provided to area seniors.
While the impasse continues, many such providers are making the difficult decision to eliminate much of what they have been able to offer in the past. With reduced staff, it is becoming harder to meet the needs of those who rely on such services. “We are a lifeline for these clients,” said a Senior Services of Will County case worker. “We keep them out of nursing homes and allow them to remain independent.” The lack of funding is already taking its toll as caseloads increase, making it more difficult for some seniors to meet application deadlines, sometimes resulting in the termination of needed benefits.
Passing the Budget May Not Be Enough
Officials with some of the affected programs have expressed serious concerns over their ability to recover once the budget impasse is resolved. A spokesperson for Lutheran Social Services said, “It’s not as easy as flipping a switch,” suggesting that many senior citizen services may not be restored even once state funding is available again. With nearly 380 agencies around the state having reportedly cut some of their social services, the problem is quite a large one with no apparent end in sight.
Legal Help for Senior Citizens
At Kezy & Associates, we understand the challenges that seniors face on a daily basis and we are equipped to provide high-quality legal representation to those who need it most. For more information, contact an experienced Will County elder law attorney by calling 708-518-8200 today.