Damage Done “Heat Maps”
Illinois’ budget impasse has been a disaster for our state’s human service infrastructure. The most respected and prominent human service providers are being forced out of our state, and entire programs are in danger of going extinct. Our communities depend on a strong base of nonprofit human service organizations to thrive and succeed but instead are facing dire risks due to depleted funds. These nonprofits serve youth, persons with disabilities, children, or persons with mental health or substance use problems. We have not had a full and clear picture of the damage done on a community-by-community level in Illinois – until now. Two departments alone have lost $383 million in program funding. The information provided here illustrates the full breadth of human services and what’s at stake in Illinois.
Department on Aging
IDOA providers have been hurt badly. More than 200 human service providers contract with the Illinois Department on Aging, and their support from state government is plummeting. Some downstate companies have lost close to – or more than – half of their program support. From 2015 to 2016, programs lost 29.8% of their total funding.
Department of Human Services
More than 1,200 providers contract with the Illinois Department of Human Services, and it is this group where the largest losses of support from state government have occurred. Altogether, these providers lost 31.4% of their funding.
Background and Methodology
In the spring and summer of 2016, Illinois Partners for Human Service submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for data on contracts awarded and payments against those contracts in each of state fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
The FOIA requests specified information pertaining only to the first three quarters of 2015 and 2016. We chose this time frame because we were requesting data at a time when the last quarter of 2016 had not been completed. Thus we had two comparable periods.
The FOIA requests were delivered to five agencies. Four of the five responded to our data request; the Department of Public Health did not, despite follow-up requests.
- Illinois Department on Aging
- Illinois Department of Human Services
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
- Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
Potential Causes of Declines in Payment Amounts: Payments to human service contractors and payments by program areas can change for a variety of reasons. Payments in one period may be different than in a previous period due to cash flow problems; in these situations the amount paid by the state may increase as time goes on and more funds become available. Payments may decline because total contract and budget amounts fell from one year to another; i.e., the state of Illinois may have sought a lower amount of services at the contracting stage. Payments may also decline because contractors bill lower amounts; for example, a contracting provider may have had to shrink its workforce and has reduced capacity to perform services (the reduced workforce may be due to declining contract amounts and delayed payments by the state).
But importantly, no matter the reason for declining payments by the State of Illinois for human services, the fact is that there are large declines in the amount of support from the state. Even if payments fall due to cash flow problems, the effect can be to make it impossible for a human service provider to function effectively (and/or the provider may have to go into debt to pay its bills as it awaits state payment). For whatever reason, declining amounts of state payments for human services represent a serious deterioration of the system of human service delivery in Illinois.
Assigning Grants to Geographic Areas: Grants were assigned to geographic areas such as a county or a state senate district on the basis of the zip code of the grant recipient. Geographic information system software was used to determine the center of a zip code (the “centroid”) and that point was then associated with the geographic area that it falls within.