Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Rauner: Child Abuse & Neglect in Illinois

Child Abuse & Neglect in Illinois

The latest International Monetary Fund report issued today urges policy-makers in the United States to do something now to correct the increasing levels of poverty as our middle class shrinks.

“The nation's economic well-being, it (the report) said, is threatened by factors including the shrinking middle class—now at ‘its smallest size in the last 30 years’—as well as ‘income and wealth distribution [that] are increasingly polarized’ and rising poverty. ‘One in seven Americans is living in poverty,’ including 40 percent of whom are working, the body added.” (

In an interview with PBS news reporter Judy Woodruff,  IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde warns that future trends in America may assure the likelihood of increases in this dangerous trend.  The numbers of active workers in the US economy is declining; the needs for workers’ child care and the elderly care will continue to squeeze those families currently working, especially in low-wage, service sector areas. 

Without any concerted and bi-partisan effort to address these building needs now (child care assistance, increasing the earned income tax credit, assistance with elder care), we can expect only anemic growth in economic recovery and the continued withering of the middle class.    

Meanwhile in Illinois, the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices For Illinois Children cautions that another year without a budget will prove even more disastrous for Illinois families, communities and their/our children. 

Who is threatened, specifically? 

Children.  Poor children. 

If you’re a child about to emerge into this world of Illinois, current statistics indicate you’ll have a bit better than 20% chance of being born into poverty.  Not that you’ll have any choice in the matter.

But you won’t be alone. 

If you live in Cook County, you’ll be just one of nearly 311,000 kids with too little and a significantly lesser chance of a meaningful life (up from 264,000 in 1999).  The numbers in Springfield, Illinois, where the Governor warned us there may be some pain as he turns Illinois around, have nearly doubled in that same time frame; from 6,103 to 11,457. 

Ten percent of those children will dwell in the lowest shelf of “deep poverty.”  That is, those poor souls living at 50% or more of poverty.  A single mother and child with an income of less than $8000 per year.  A family of three, at less than $10,000. 

According to the Fiscal Policy Center’s latest brief:  “The harm is widespread – ranging from afterschool programs and autism services to lifesaving cancer and HIV screening and support services for seniors.  While many providers of these critical services have been given contracts to continue to provide services at the level of the last fiscal year (which ended June 30), others have been issued new contracts with lower service levels.  In either case, outside of consent decrees and federal pass-through funds, many critical state priorities still lack state funding.  As a result, even providers that are pillars of the public service delivery system such as Lutheran Social Services have been forced to lay off staff, turn away those in need, and shut program doors “ 

This is just some of last year’s (2015) damage.

Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services suffered NO state funding (over $16 million in FY15), and the federal pass-through dollars make up less than 17% of annual program budget.  CCBYS programs and staff provide emergency services for roughly 7000 youth in crises or runaways (ages 10-17).

Early Intervention Services: NO state funding (over $85 million in FY15; FY16 contracts issued but no payments without budget enacted.  As a result, hundreds of new children needing services were shut off in September as well as the suspension of assistance and transportation to over 4000 families.    

Home Visiting (Child Development and Coaching for at-risk new parents): NO state funding in FY15 $16.5 million); new contracts issued FY16 but no payments without enacted budget FY16.  Some federal matching from last year helped modestly (900 families), but there remain nearly 6000 at-risk families in need of services.

Intensive Pre-Natal and Family Case Management: NO state funding of $36 million FY15; FY16 contracts issued with severe cuts to federally non-funded Qualified Health Centers, but no payments without enacted budget FY16.  Services were severely impacted last year, especially in downstate regions to the point that rebuilding will require long-term efforts even if FY16 budget were enacted.

Redeploy Illinois: NO state funding FY15 ($4.8 million); programs serving hundreds of youth through cost-effective programs steering young people away from incarceration.  As a result, twenty-three counties no longer serve to assist youngsters in finding alternatives to behaviors that will lead to jail.

I could go on…

Reminder: Over 600,000 children in Illinois are qualified as impoverished. 

Imagine a city over four times the size of Naperville populated by starving or needy children.  You’ll get the idea.

Bruce Rauner confided to the Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune that he’d be running again in 2018.  The Tribune brandishes him as "the Governor Who Won't Back Down." There's a laurel that bears cautious consideration.  

For, Rauner also “asserted” that his administration has been “heroic” in keeping state government afloat as he presides over the budget impasse(s).  “‘I have to say, I give our team and our administration tremendous credit for being able to run the government for 18 months with massive deficits and no budget,’ Rauner said.  ‘It’s an extraordinary performance by the leaders in our team.  We’re doing heroic things.’”

Just a few of the other youth and elderly service programs that will feel the “pain” of these “heroic” actions?

Safe from the Start (violence protection for kids), Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grants, Teen REACH After School Programs, Autism Program of Illinois, Centers for Independent Living, Community Care Program, Domestic Violence Shelters and Services, Epilepsy Grants, Family Planning Programs, Funeral & Burial Assistance Programs, HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs and Treatments, Sexual Assault & Services Programs, Home Delivered Meals for Seniors, Substance Use and Prevention Programs, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Program, Home and Adult Day Care Services, U of I Sickle Cell Clinics, Aid to Public Colleges and Universities, Child Care Assistance Program, Civil Legal Aid, Emergency and Transitional Housing, Employment & Training Programs, Affordable Housing Programs, Homeless Prevention Services and Supportive Housing, Homeless Youth Services, Reentry and Rehabilitation Services, Immigrant Services, and MAP Tuition Assistance Programs.

Heroic, indeed.

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