For more than a year now, we’ve been hearing that Illinois’ human services system is “on the precipice,” “walking a tightrope,” “on the verge of a crisis.” Communities, local economies, and taxpayers are feeling the pain of a dysfunctional system more acutely than ever. It is clear that Illinois is no longer on the brink of a system collapse; the crisis is upon us and the time for action is now.
Today, the Urban Institute released a one-of-a-kind report on the state of the human services contracting system nationwide. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture nationally, but in terms of late payments and several other indicators, Illinois is in a league of its own. Illinois ranks #1 in the country for late payments, #3 for payments failing to cover the full cost of contracted services, and #3 for government changing contract terms mid-stream.
This is an irresponsible and fiscally unstainable allocation of taxpayer dollars that has a material affect on the vitality of Illinois’ economy and the health of our communities. The State has broken its promise to taxpayers and nonprofits, and our neediest citizens are bearing the brunt. As the Chicago Tribune notes today, two thirds of nonprofits report freezing or cutting salaries, more than half have cut staff, 42% borrowed to cover cash flow, and 31% have reduced the number of programs or services provided to Illinoisans in need just when that need is at its highest.
Donors Forum has developed a roadmap to help get Illinois back on track. Fair and Accountable: Partnership Principles for a Sustainable Human Services System is an action plan for a responsive, fair, efficient, and accountable human services system that will benefit all Illinoisans and serve to strengthen the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
What You Can Do:
- Download the report and press release and share it with your board, constituents, and elected officials.
- Go here for more information about the Partnership Principles, a link to endorse, and to download the document.
- Watch for coverage in the Tribune today, The Capitol Fax Blog, and elsewhere.
- Respond to the coverage by sharing your story in a letter to the editor.
- Comment below – we want to hear from you, our Members and Partners. In the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting your stories.
- Lend your expertise by completing the HB5124 Provider Survey by October 11th. HB5124, the DHS Streamlined Auditing Bill, will streamline the contracting system by reducing redundant auditing requirements. It is a sign of progress, though we still have a long way to go.
- Ask colleagues and constituents to take action, too.
~ Laurel O'Sullivan, Vice President, Public Policy, Donors Forum