State cuts to impact Catholic services

Clients of Catholic agencies and institutions serving the poor, the abused, the sick and the elderly are among those who will suffer from ongoing budget woes in the State of Illinois, say leaders in the Diocese of Peoria.

On July 9, Gov. Rod Blagojevich cut $1.4 billion from an out-of-balance $59 billion budget for fiscal year 2009 that the Illinois General Assembly had passed in May. Before the cuts, the budget was $2 billion in the red.

“The majority of these cuts were to health care and social services to the poor,” according to a statement issued Monday by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria. “While Catholic Charities understands the importance of a balanced budget, the cuts proposed to balance this budget will have long-term consequences for children and families in Illinois.”

The budget cuts also will mean nursing homes, such as St. Joseph Nursing Home in Lacon, will wait even longer for Medicaid reimbursements from the state.

“Gov. Blagojevich’s state budget cuts mean a great deal of planning for a small, non-profit home such as ours,” said Angela Mehlbrech, administrator of the home, owned and operated by the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi and managed by Provena Senior Services.

Catholic Charities funding will be directly affected by budget reductions for the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Human Services.

The $30 million cut from DCFS foster care would require each foster care case worker to serve 20 children and their families and foster parents.

Other services critical to Catholic Charities clients were also cut, including developmental disabilities and mental health programs.

Blagojevich’s reduction of the DHS budget by 2 percent ($3 million) will have a negative impact on service programs for at-risk youth, such as the Unified Delinquency Intervention Service, according to Tim Glancy, Catholic Charities youth intervention coordinator.

UDIS provides an alternative to incarceration in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and costs about $5,000 a year per child. In comparison, depending on the facility, sending a youth to the Department of Juvenile Justice for a year will cost more than $100,000, said Glancy.

Also eliminated was a 3 percent increase in monthly reimbursement to foster parents. The reimbursement helps cover the rising costs of providing 24-hour care for abused and neglected children who are wards of the state.

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