Human service providers rally against Illinois budget impasse

For 11 months and 28 days the state of Illinois has operated without a budget. Now, the groups your family relies on are turning to each other for help and support.

With just two days to go until the state enters its second year without a budget, human service providers in southern Illinois are fighting for survival and their funding.

Human service providers are coming together to fight for the funding the state owes them. Family Counseling Center executive director Sherrie Crabb organized the first-ever human service symposium for the area’s agencies inside John A Logan College in Carterville. She says she hopes the event gives agencies a chance to learn from each other on how to survive the budget impasse.

"They can listen to each other, they understand what they’re doing to stay alive and maybe figure out how they need to change what they’re doing or change their message," says Crabb. She says human service providers are among the largest employers in the area. With southern Illinois’ high levels of poverty, reported abuse and unemployment levels, Crabb says the people here need those services now more than ever.

She says the best way to make sure the human service providers you use get funding is to call your local lawmaker often to make sure they get the message.

Judith Gethner, the executive director of Illinois Partners for Human Services, says doing that lets lawmakers, "know that is intolerable and unacceptable that they are not having a budget." Gethner says taxpayers will pay far more in the end to fund prisons and hospitals if their agencies aren’t there for preventative care.

State Sen. Gary Forby, who represents District 56, says it’s a lesson he’ll be taking with him to Springfield Wednesday as lawmakers gather to discuss stopgap funding for the budget.

"They’re getting ready to lay off and shut things down, and we don’t need to do that. We need to make sure we can get a budget and get things done, and I hope we’ll get it all done tomorrow," says Forby.

He says it’s past time to take a stand and make sure the shelters, centers and agencies Illinois families need get the full funding they deserve.

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