Recruitment businesses are advocating a rise in Illinois funding
SPRINGFIELD – State agencies serving seniors and children in state care in Illinois on Friday called for an increase in the budget for the next fiscal year.
Officials from the Illinois Department on Aging and the Department of Children and Family Services testified before a budget committee, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional demand for their services, as well as new challenges in providing those services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of service delivery and reiterated the importance of addressing the basic needs of the elderly (people) and that older adults stay connected in alternative ways like never before,” said Paula Basta, Director the Department of Aging.
The Aging Department oversees a network of local Aging Agencies, or “Triple A,” who coordinate a variety of services for seniors to help them stay in their homes. These include assembled food centers, home meal delivery, in-home services, and home emergency response.
The agency aims to increase its budget for the current year by $ 59 million, or 4.3 percent. That includes $ 11.3 million to keep up with new, higher demand for home meals.
Basta noted that when the pandemic broke out, more than 400 food centers across the state had to close and the agency had to quickly shift its focus to home delivery.
“To give you an idea of what this meant from March 30, 2020 through December 2020, the 13 Triple A’s delivered over 10.4 million home cooked meals, which equates to roughly 48,000 home cooked meals being delivered each day across the state” said Basta. “To give you an idea of how this has changed, in 2019 we only provided our seniors with 58,000 storage-stable meals. But now, in 2020, we have provided our seniors with over 1.2 million non-perishable meals year-round. “
The proposed budget also includes an additional $ 5 million for emergency medical services, $ 1 million for assistive technology, and additional funding to fund an increase in tariffs for those providing in-home services and transportation.
Governor JB Pritzker’s proposed budget also includes a 7.9 percent increase in funding for the Department of Children and Families, the primary state child protection agency, bringing the agency’s total budget to just over $ 1.5 billion would amount to.
This includes an increase in care services of $ 42.7 million to accommodate an expected increase in the number of cases.
DCFS chief financial officer Royce Kirkpatrick said the agency is also calling for an additional $ 30.5 million to fund institutional group homes to improve clinical support for children with the most acute needs.
DCFS is also requesting an additional $ 12.7 million for technology upgrades to its comprehensive information system to protect children. This system is designed to meet new federal standards and will potentially replace obsolete systems, including one that is over 40 years old and running on a mainframe.
The agency is also proposing a US $ 7.4 million cut in adoption and guardianship funds. Kirkpatrick insisted that this did not reflect a proposed reduction in services, but rather the fact that there was a surplus in this position in a previous year and the reduced amount will continue to fund the program in full for the next year.
But Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, cautioned against taking that move, saying she would prefer the agency to put more emphasis on permanent child custody.
“And I think if we worked a little more robustly we could keep more kids out of the system and definitely keep them in the least restrictive environment that would be best for them,” she said.
Overall, Pritzker has proposed total General Revenue Fund spending of $ 41.6 billion, which is $ 100 million less than the budget approved for this year.
The committees in both chambers are now holding information hearings from agencies to hear their specific requests. Later in the session, lawmakers will make their own adjustments to these proposals and put together a final budget to be voted on in late May.
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