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Social Services Hit Hard by State Funding Crisis

July 3, 2009

Chicago_TribuneAs the ailing economy is slowly mending itself we are finding that many state’s are experiencing major budget crisis.  For example, this article in the Chicago Tribune highlights the very harsh realities of the Illinois budget.  The state has found itself in a major deficit and in efforts to balance the budget is threatening to slash funding allocated for social services. The threat of funding cuts, followed by protest, flowed by service disruption, occurs in a cyclical fashion.  However, the threat of social service agencies being completely shut down is more real this time because of the very severe economic downturn.  Social service agencies that normally supplement their funding through private donations and philanthropic organizations are finding that their secondary funding sources are all tapped out.  In addition banks are increasingly hesitant to lend money on the promise that they will be repayed by the state.  

These agencies provide services for mental illness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, legal services, and many other services provided to socially vulnerable clients.  A disruption in service could severely destabalize the recovery paths for many clients.  

How would communities change if there were to be a disruption in service to these clients? Where would these already disadvantaged individuals go for help and is the state being fair in targeting social services?  More specifically, as individual donors are you attracted to the possibility of donating to a social service agency? What types of information would you want to know from an agency before making that investment?

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