Michelle and Janet promoted Food for Thought at the Senior Expo today. The big cupcake was made by our chef for the event. Food for thought is coming up soon now, on November 12. A $15 ticket buys you lots of goodies at the vendor show and an entertaining and educational cooking show. We now have tickets available in our main office.
We got some interior photos of the new home today. Everyone’s excited to see them because you can’t really tell what’s going on from the outside at this point. The full album is on our Facebook page. At this point, completion may be around Christmas, which would be a wonderful present. Move-in is still planned for early February. Right now they’re putting in the plumbing and electric–as you can see by the additions to the wood framing. At the moment they’re waiting for Nicor to come and hook up the gas.
Illinois Partners for Human Services conducted a survey to learn the impact of state funding cuts and late payments. The most striking numbers from our perspective are those that describe agencies either closing programs or reducing services. The numbers themselves being huge, it’s hard to get your head around the even greater impact on peoples’ lives. On the SU front, our application for six month’s of expedited payments has been activated. We’re still paying interest on the money we’ve had to borrow for payroll and other bills, but we’re feeling more comfortable that we’re not going to run out of cash or credit in the very near future.
This article appeared in The Times yesterday. A memorable quote: “The burden of survival for human services has been passed to our dedicated staff.”
Here is another article which has more of a suburban focus. A memorable quote: “It feels like a never-ending environment of being in a fiscal vise and being squeezed.” This article is part of a series which should be interesting as it goes along.
Though frustrated with our state funding, we can empathize with our elected representatives somewhat. When you have limited resources you don’t have great choices…you pay later, you cut spending, or take out a loan to pay your bills and then have to take that back. The difference for us is that we don’t really have the option of paying later and have had to figure things out using the cutting and borrowing options.
The annual State of the States survey is out. Noted was that 14 states (not Illinois) no longer have state institutions. We are behind Texas and New Jersey as the third highest institutional census. We are number one in utilization of 7-15 person residential settings. The new home will allow SU to downsize Knox from 16 to 8 people, but even fewer housemates would be ideal. What adult wants 7 or more housemates that they didn’t even get to choose? Illinois is ranked #40 in fiscal effort to support people with developmental disabilities. We would need to nearly double our effort to make the top ten. We are ranked 47 on Waiver spending (the kind of spending that allows people more control over their services).
We are also near the top on being behind in paying service providers. Pre-Halloween, here’s a scary story highlighting the challenges of not being paid for a very long time. Here is a similar story, and finally, one more of them.
How is SU doing? About as one might expect. At the end of September, we had received around $55,000 in payments from the state this fiscal year as compared to our expenses of $580,000 in that 3-month period. The State of Illinois currently owed SU $368,948, as of September 30. We had borrowed $30,000 on our line of credit to make our most recent check run, and had enough credit left to pay our employees and bills for four more weeks. Fortunately, Illinois has an expedited payments program if a provider can demonstrate they’ll actually go out of business if the state doesn’t start paying them. After much questioning and scrutiny, we were able to prove exactly that and were approved for six month’s worth of speeded-up payments. The first couple of times we had to do this it really panicked us. Now we’re a little bit more used to it but really don’t like having to go right up to the edge of the abyss like that.
It’s been a scary few years, state funding-wise. Between the funding cuts and late payments we’ve had to cut back on a lot of the things we do. We are fortunate to have a dedicated staff and incredibly supportive community.
And then we have that odd juxtaposition of the state-funded financial abyss we have been skirting with the wonderful things we’ve been able to do with the ARRA funds for the new group home and shredding business. We find that both weird and wondrous.
Photo and article on our shredding business in The Times today. As a follow up, we had a great visit down to Flora yesterday and are exploring ways to develop a recycling program that can help the environment and generate work and income to support our services. One thing we know is that recycling white office paper would be a great thing for us to do, so if you know of a place wasting space in their dumpster let them know we can take the white office paper and perhaps they can save some money on dumpster pickups. More to come as we learn more.