Damage to Women and Families Persists in Wake of Budget Impasse
August 02 2017

New report details impact of Illinois budget stalemate on women and children

CHICAGO, IL (August 2, 2017) — Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), Voices for Illinois Children, and Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) today released a new report on the impact of Illinois’ budget impasse on women and children. The report, titled “Damage Done: The Impact of the Illinois Budget Stalemate on Women and Children,” was prepared by Voices for Illinois Children and Loyola’s Center for Urban Research and Learning. Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, including low-income women of color and their children, continue to bear the burden of the state’s two-year impasse, which delayed payment of contracts to social service providers and resulted in significant cuts in staff and services that cannot be quickly replaced.

While the State has now fulfilled its obligation to pass a full budget, damage has already been done. In maintaining services and keeping their doors open, organizations spent down years of savings and relied on lines of credit, leaving them in a precarious position. Illinois’ social service and nonprofit sector has been badly damaged and is unlikely to withstand further disruption. Social service providers continue to await reimbursement for services contracted by the State.

“Like all businesses, nonprofits require stability in order to successfully meet the needs of their clients,” CFW President/CEO K. Sujata said. “The uncertainty of state funding over the last two years has pushed many of our grantees, and the women they serve, to the brink. Philanthropy cannot replace state government in the fabric of the social safety net; the past two years have proved this.”

The report focuses on the areas of parenting support for teen mothers, child care, breast and cervical cancer screenings, college access, domestic violence, meals for senior women and homelessness. The most significant impacts of the impasse found in the report include:

– Payments to social service providers were delayed by an average of eight months, forcing layoffs and reductions in services offered and people served.

– Due to reduced hours and services, and long waitlists for Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Programs, the number of women receiving preventative screenings dropped by 34 percent.

– 7,800 victims of domestic violence were turned away from shelter in 2016.

– Changes in eligibility for child care assistance resulted in 30,000 fewer children enrolled in quality, affordable child care.

– Ninety percent of homeless service providers were forced to reduce intake, services, staff programs or sites, and 2,530 homeless youth were turned away from shelters in 2015. Seventy-one percent of those served by Illinois Homeless Youth Services are young women and girls.

“The best assessment of a government is how well it serves the most vulnerable among us. Not only was the budget impasse irresponsible and negligent, but it further disadvantaged those most affected by an imperfect social services system,” Voices for Illinois Children President Tasha Green Cruzat said. “We cannot allow our state’s underserved women and children to be collateral damage. Not only do we have to repair the damage that has already been done to vital social service providers and those they serve, but we must continue long-term investments in our state’s women and children – now, more than ever.”

“CURL’s community partners who serve low-income and minority women and their families echo the report’s findings: the Illinois budget crisis continues to jeopardize the health and economic stability of their clients,” Gina Spitz, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow at CURL, said. “By highlighting the state’s budget crisis as a women’s issue, the report provides an evidence-based argument for new spending priorities that aim to better the lives of the hardest-hit women and children in Illinois.”

The report calls for policymakers to make a long-term commitment to adequately funding services for women and children to ensure they have opportunities to lead safe, healthy and stable lives in Illinois. The full report can be found here.

 

 

About Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL): By building and supporting collaborative research and educational efforts, the Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) at Loyola University Chicago creates innovative solutions that promote equity and opportunity in communities throughout the Chicago metropolitan region. These partnerships connect Loyola faculty and students with community and nonprofit organizations, civic groups, and government agencies. Such collaborations effectively link knowledge in the community with knowledge in the University.

About Voices for Illinois Children: Voices for Illinois Children is an independent advocacy organization that champions strong public policies and investments that remove barriers, build opportunities, and advance equity for children, families, and communities. Voices unites community leaders and people who care passionately about children into a statewide network that helps establish new policies and implements innovative programs to improve education, health care, and family economics. Voices is a strong believer that a child’s ZIP Code should not determine their future or well-being.