Youth Services Providers Warn Drastic Cuts Without Revenue
Edwardsville, IL – Non-profit providers of youth services told state senators that cuts recently enacted by Governor Bruce Rauner and which will continue under the Governor’s FY 2016 budget represent an abandonment of the region’s youth and damage the local economy. They say Illinois must provide revenue to fund services and programs to keep communities strong. A Joint Appropriations Committee of the Illinois Senate chose to hold its hearing in Edwardsville today, instead of the Capitol in Springfield, in order to gain a local perspective on the impact of Rauner’s cuts. The sudden termination of funding for Community Youth Services (CYS) and Teen REACH (TR) grants at 5 PM on April 3 (Good Friday) as a major topic of discussion.
Al Riddley, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Human Services (ICHS), called the Governor’s decision to cut programs mid-year on April 3rd a “sucker punch to children throughout Illinois and to the dedicated people who serve them.” Ridley said ICHS was forced to lay off 12 staffers, 9 of whom were employed full-time, just three days later. A federally funded summer meal program that serves 850 kids in the Metro East Area is now in serious jeopardy as there will be no staff to serve them meals. This is one example of how carelessly cutting one budget line will result in much higher costs elsewhere in the budget or lost opportunities to secure federal funds
“We’re desperately trying to fill those huge gaps after the elimination of state funding. Some, perhaps most, of those gaps won't be bridged, particularly in rural communities,” Riddley said. ICHS serves children and youth in East St. Louis, Collinsville, Alton, Wilsonville, and Jerseyville. The Governor’s proposed FY 2016 budget would permanently end funding for the Community Youth Services and Teen REACH grants.
Percy Dace is the former vice-president of the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, a community center whose mission is to empower individuals and families to move out of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency. In just one year, Lessie Bates Neighborhood House will provide services to more than 23,500 children, youth, families and the elderly. Governor Rauner’s proposed cuts in funding would mean the loss of services to approximately 5,000 children, youth, families, and elderly persons in the greater East St. Louis-St. Clair County community. This would also result in having to lay off more than 75 employees, the loss of 300 community volunteers, and perhaps even the closing of the agency, despite the fact some of the poorest and most at-risk children in Illinois need these critically important services, youth, and families in the state.
Dace noted the effectiveness of after-school and job-training programs the Neighborhood House provides in reducing high school drop-out rates and motivating students to pursue brighter futures. Despite the success the Neighborhood House has enjoyed, he said the high rates of violence in the area and an unemployment rate that is among the highest in the state show there is still a great need for their services. “These budget cuts put lives at risk and handicaps our economy.”
“Let’s continue to invest in our youth. Time and again throughout the Neighborhood House’s 105 year history, we’ve shown investing in youth is effective,” said Dace. “I implore you not to abandon our youth. If we lose them now, we may lose them forever.”
PRESS RELEASE, April 17, 2015
Media Contact: Neal Waltmire, firstname.lastname@example.org, 815-353-7655