Archive for July 2009

IL Legislature Approves, Governor Pat Quinn Signs Illinois Budget–Homeless Youth, Mentally Ill, Others Still Face Loss of Care, Services

July 16, 2009

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois General Assembly last night approved and the Governor Pat Quinn signed the Fiscal Year 2010 Illinois budget.

The good news is that there is now a regular FY’10 budget, so that contracts and cash can begin to flow. The bad news is that the budget still contains serious cuts.

The budget does not contain revenue for a tax increase, but contains revenues from fund sweeps and

Governor Pat Quinn

Governor Pat Quinn

funds generated from pension borrowing to offset the Illinois “doomsday” budget losses in human service funding. However, human services are funded only at an average of 86% of FY ’09 levels.

State agencies will be mandated to set aside $1.1 billion total in reserves, not spending appropriated dollars until review later in the year, so this will pose an additional strain for programs that are already reduced. Finally, there is an expectation inherent in this budget that some FY ’10 payments to providers will be delayed into FY ’11 as a way of saving funds in FY ’10. This “borrowing” from providers is estimated at $1.5 billion. . There is estimated to be $1.1 billion in cuts.  The overall funding for the state is approximately 92% of FY ’09 levels.

Social services are funded at an average of 86% of FY ’09 amounts. This is an AVERAGE only.

State agencies received lump sum appropriations and not detailed line item appropriations. State agencies will make determinations of how to spend and allocate the reduced amounts within the lump sum allocations. The General Assembly did not appropriate division, program or line items for the state agencies. The Governor and state agencies will need to make decisions on how the 86% funding levels will be distributed to meet human needs.

Legislators who presented and commented on the proposed budgets confirmed that the budget represents all the money Illinois has. Cuts will be deep. However, they acknowledged that Illinois was out of time and options in terms of passing some type of budget. They characterized this as a budget that avoids a complete meltdown but avoids a tax increase.

Child Care Association of Illinois staff reviewed the lump sum appropriations for each state agency. At this time, there is really no way to determine if the lump sums represent the expected 86% funding level, or if the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services appropriation represents the mandates of the federal BH consent decree.   We will need to obtain more detail from the state agencies, once the dust settles.

Governor Quinn and thus, the state agencies, will have wide latitude in determining how to spend the reduced funding levels. Although the 86% funding level for human service grants is an AVERAGE, there is NO GUARANTEE THAT ALL PROGRAMS WOULD BE FUNDED AT 86%.

The state agencies will need to make determinations about priority programs, funding levels and potential rate or utilization reductions. Language in the budget bill allows the agencies to do this.  For example, in the Illinois Department of Humans Services, appropriations are usually made in very specific amounts by division. This year, however, there is no differentiation of the total funds given to DHS for use in youth services or mental health or developmental disabilities or substance abuse. The Governor has asked the state agencies for their spending plans. There is much work to be done ahead with the state agencies.

The DCFS budget is not necessarily exempt from all aspects of the budget restrictions, although the requirements of the BH court order of July 1 mandate certain services.  We have asked DCFS finance staff to let us know whether their analysis of the amounts appropriated to DCFS reflect the budget needs necessary so that DCFS can fund services at FY ’09 levels as planned.

The budget is actually named “Emergency Budget Implementation Act of Fiscal Year 2010” and refers to the extraordinary financial situation. The legislative intent of the budget bill states:

“The General Assembly hereby finds and declares that the State is confronted with an unprecedented fiscal crisis. This Act is to be liberally construed and interpreted in a manner that allows the State to
address the fiscal crisis for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.”

The budget bill also contains language that will allow emergency rule making. This will allow the state agencies to implement the program and finance challenges expeditiously in rules.  The JCAR process of legislative review will still be used.

Finally, there does not appear to be any agreement at this time about revisiting a tax increase. Some legislators predict such discussions will emerge in the fall veto session. Others look to January before there is any serious consideration of a tax increase. There is no guarantee that the budget we have today will in any way be enhanced by other revenue within this fiscal year.

The great disappointment of this budget means challenges for CCAI members throughout this fiscal year and as we plan for FY ’11. Advocacy efforts must continue to remind the public and the general assembly that an 86% human service level is not acceptable.

Policy advocacy and scrutiny of the state agency decisions will become a big part of this year’s activities. We need to prepare for the inevitable funding challenges of FY ’11 when some of the federal stimulus money protecting ISBE this year, goes away.

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Quinn Contract Cuts Bite: 17,000 Kids Lose 24-Hour Crisis Intervention for Runaways, Mental Health Care, Homeless Shelters,

July 13, 2009

(Springfield, IL) – An initial survey of Illinois child welfare agencies reveals that local providers have already absorbed more than $50 million in direct program cuts from the Illinois Department of Human Services, affecting more than 17,000 children.

“Governor Pat Quinn’s contract cuts have already hit all parts of the state from Chicago to Putnam County, slashing care to more than 17,000 children,” said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

Click Here: CCA Podcast: CCA News Interview with Child Care Association President Marge Berglind

“Even with no state budget, agencies have acted on Governor Quinn’s cuts to children’s services contracts and have already eliminated approximately 1,075 jobs and many children and youth programs.”

According to Berglind, the discontinued or drastically reduced services include:

  • 24-Hour Crisis Intervention for runaways to prevent DCFS entry or law enforcement detention
  • Outpatient counseling for youth with serious mental illness
  • Supportive Shelter Care for runaways
  • Parents Too Soon programs to help teen parents avoid child abuse/neglect
  • After school programs for youth to avoid gangs and remain in school
  • Home Visiting Programs to ensure new moms properly care for their at-risk babies
  • Mental health services in early childhood programs
  • Respite Support for Parents of DD or Mentally Ill Children

“Even in the absence of an actual budget—Governor Quinn has put drastically reduced contracts on the streets and children’s agencies have—drastically reduced jobs and services,” said Berglind. “Doomsday is already here.”

“We urge the General Assembly to quickly develop a budget for FY’10 that immediately stops the massive cuts and contains sufficient money to restore desperately needed services for children and youth,” Berglind added.

Court Order Prompts Governor Pat Quinn to Reverse DCFS Illinois Doomsday Budget Cuts

July 2, 2009

Memorandum

TO: CCAI CEOs/EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS/POLICY COMMITTEE
FROM: Marge Berglind, President, Child Care Association of Illinois
DATE: JULY 1, 2009
RE: DCFS Contracts Update/State Budget Update—Part 3

Today, Illinois Department of Children Family Services Director Erwin McEwen called a special CWAC Meeting to provide information about the requirements of the BH Consent Decree order. Earlier, providers received a letter from DCFS asking you to provide all programs and services.

DCFS must comply with the order of federal judge John Grady and is asking all agencies with contracts to comply.

Governor Pat Quinn’s office has informed DCFS that they intend to comply with the BH decree and should continue to assure services are provided. The Director asked that any agency that had a DCFS contract for FY ’09 continue to provide these services as of July 1. This request will override any previous letters/notices you received that either eliminated or cut services. Your FY ‘10 contracts will continue at the FY ’09 levels.

DCFS is working with the Governor’s office and Comptroller Dan Hynes to reach an understanding that will allow DCFS providers to be paid for the services they provide, and asking the Controller to give DCFS providers priority in the payment queue.  The request is for the Comptroller to make payment without a budget appropriation.

DCFS contracts are going in the mail within the next 5 days. Providers should return those promptly. These contracts will be 12-month contracts, based on FY ’09 contract levels.

DCFS realizes that some agencies may not be in a position to reactivate or continue a DCFS service for which they may experience payment delays. They understand that some agencies are already experiencing cash challenges based on payment delays from FY ’09.

If any agency feels it cannot reactivate its program, or continue to serve the DCFS children currently in care, that agency should inform DCFS Director McEwen via e-mail immediately. DCFS will then arrange service coverage for those clients that program cannot serve.

The Director requested that agencies act immediately to halt the closure or downsizing of any contract that DCFS had informed you would not be renewed. He does not want any client to be without even one day of service. SOC cases that were just closed because they were clinically due to be closed anyway should remain closed. Those that were closed only because of the potential termination of the DCFS contract should be opened immediately.

Day care providers used by foster caregivers, for which the day care is paid by DCFS, will also still be needed as a provider.  Those day care providers are being notified, along with 40,000 miscellaneous DCFS providers, of DCFS’ intent to continue all services.

If a foster parent is having difficulty with their day care provider, that provider can contact the DCFS contracts unit for verification of DCFS’ intent:  217-785-3920. A copy of the Director’s letter regarding compliance with the BH court order is also on the DCFS web site.