Catholic Charities has a nearly-100 year history in Illinois, running more than 160 sites that provide food and home care services to some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. But because Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers have failed yet again to pass a state budget, the non-profit agency is in crisis and its future hangs in the balance.
“We've done as much as we can,” said Monsignor Michael Boland. “I don't want to close services to seniors and children. Those two areas being affected by state impasse"
Catholic Charities has been able to operate through the 11-month impasse thanks to extra fundraising and by cutting costs. But the majority of the organization's budget comes from state contracts, and without any state funding, cuts may be inevitable.
“80 percent of our clients have dementia, so we are totally responsible for them and we just want to make sure they get that care, their families don't need to worry,” said Pamela White of the Accolade Day Care Center in Oak Park, a site run by Catholic Charities.
“Half the clients that come here would have to find a caregiver, some of them can't afford it and they'd have to find other means and that's hard for some of the caregivers,” White added.
Catholic Charities serves more than 1 million children, veterans, and seniors in Illinois. 90-year-old Willie Beasley has dementia, and is one of the clients of Accolade Day Care Center who would be impacted by a shutdown.
“She gets up and she runs for the bus. She enjoys every minute,” said Beasley’s daughter and caregiver Ann Rainey. “They have a problem getting her home some days because she doesn't want to come home because she's enjoying herself so much here."
Rainey says that at 71 years old, she can’t take care of her mother all by herself, and the center has been life-changing for their family.
"The more we talk about it, the more anxiety it creates in our clients and that's what bothers me,” Boland said. "We will continue to try to provide service as long as we can but we're not sure how long that can be.”
“We're hoping we can get through August, hopefully by then some sort of resolution,” he added.
But it is unlikely the state will see a balanced budget until after the November elections. Catholic Charities says without help until then, its programs could be even more harshly impacted.