Illinois can't pass a budget and the most vulnerable are getting hurt

getting cut in illinois
These services aren't getting funded because of Illinois' ongoing budget dispute.

Illinois has gone seven months without a budget, and it's having an immediate impact on the state's most vulnerable.

At least 2,000 seniors will lose their home care workers who help them dress, bathe, cook meals, clean the house, and take them to doctor appointments.

Some children won't have anywhere to go after school, and their mom or dad might have to choose between leaving them home alone or working fewer hours.

Former prisoners in Chicago and East St. Louis will find it harder to get help with their resumes and job search, and victims of assault may have to wait longer before seeing a mental health counselor.

The largest provider of those services has been Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. But the state now owes the nonprofit more than $6 million, and it said it is ending 30 different programs that serve about 4,700 people and laying off 750 of its staff members.

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"We can no longer provide services for which we aren't being paid," said Mark Stutrud, the president of the largest social service provider in the state, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.

While the agency is receiving some payments from Medicaid, the state hasn't been paying for senior services provided since July, when the approval of a new state budget was due.

Eventually, there will be a budget, but it won't necessarily bring back these programs.

"It's not as easy as flipping a switch," said Barb Hailey, a spokeswoman for Lutheran Social Services.

illinois owes 6 million

For now, seniors may be referred back to a state agency called a community care unit, which will try to connect them with a different service provider.

But any agency contracted by the state is strapped for cash and independent agencies are receiving more and more referrals, adding to what can be an already long wait list, said Bill Green, a policy manager at United Way.

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At least 377 agencies have had to cut some of the social services they provide, according to a survey conducted last month by United Way of Illinois.