Social Services Fear Even More Funding Woes

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

Social Services Fear Even More Funding Woes


Byline: Mary Hansen mhansen@dailyherald.com

Many "key dates" have come and gone in the past year for struggling suburban social service agencies, but now their eyes are fixed on one that is especially ominous: June 30.

On that date, groups that care for the elderly, at-risk youths and victims of domestic violence face adversity from two directions.

From one, contracts they've signed to do business with the troubled state end then, and some agencies worry they'll never get paid for work they've already done under those 2016 contracts. From the other, particularly for groups serving seniors, federal money that has kept them afloat during a year of crisis is set to expire.

"It hasn't been decided yet whether the state will completely, permanently welsh on these contracts," said John Bouman, a lawyer and president of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. "With the lawsuit, you eliminate almost all of that outside chance of not getting paid."

Agencies have sued to get their payments, just as lottery winners did successfully last year to get their payouts, but they know the courts can be as unpredictable as Democrat and Republican legislators locked in a budget battle are unreliable. They are asking the court to guarantee payment from the state for the more than $130 million in work they've already done in 2016.

"We've been told: 'They'll resolve this by Labor Day; they'll resolve this in the veto session; they'll resolve this after the (candidate) filing session in December,'" said Andrea Durbin, executive director of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, one of the groups leading the lawsuit. "It became clear to us that we cannot rely on the political process to protect us in this."

Still, lawmakers could pass a stopgap budget before June 30 or even approve a plan after that to make the payments retroactively. …

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