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Stretched Thinner: YWCA Stepping Stones, Senior Services 'On Hold'

Cristian Jaramillio

Several programs operated by the Bloomington-Normal YWCA rely heavily on state funds. Liz German, Vice President of Operations at the YW says the impasse in Springfield has many of those programs on hold.

"We have been told that, as of January 1, there is no more money," German said during Sound Ideas. "Theoretically there are hundreds of thousands of dollars we won't be getting. This hurts because it means federal matching dollars won't be available either," she added.

One position has already been eliminated, German said, and other cuts are on the way.

"It's a very small team as it is. We have two counselors, a legal advocate, a volunteer coordinator and a prevention educator. We also had a part-time person who filled in the gaps. Unfortunately, we had to eliminate that position on February 1. We're looking at our bank accounts every day. It's very much day to day, week to week, trying to do our best," German said.

As part of Stepping Stones, the YWCA gives clothes and supplies free to victims of sexual assault. German said with the budget impasse, the organization is relying completely on donations from the public.

"There are days we don't have any supplies," she said. "We have generous donors, but we can't buy anything we can obviously live without. We're able to provide basic core services like counseling and legal aid, but many things our clients rely on aren't available."

Some home care services provided by the YWCA are mandated by the state, but the dollars aren't following from Springfield. German said this makes it difficult to help as many as 250 seniors that apply for help at any given time. Services must be delivered within 14 days. German said the program is running between $700,000 and $800,000 behind.

"To start with, the reimbursements we're supposed to be getting aren't enough to run the program, so from the start there's a huge issue. We are at a decision point. I think in the next month or so we'll have to make a decision about how long we can sustain this. It's a matter of either providing the service to everyone or no one," German said.

The YWCA considered using a line of credit to help with cash flow, but decided against it. German said it may be an option this year.

Editors Note: During our interview series Stretched Thin, we reported on the impact of the state budget impasse on local social service agencies   That was in spring of 2016. There's still no budget. In our new series Stretched Thinner, we check back in with those social social service agencies.

Willis is a Bloomington, IL, native. During his senior year at Bloomington High School, he finished third in the "Radio Speaking" division of the state speech contest, the only year he competed.