Stretched Thinner: Baby Fold Red Ink Fading Some

Feb 3, 2017

The Baby Fold offices at 108 E. Willow have been a fixture in Normal for decades
Credit Cristian Jaramillo / Staff

A year ago, when Illinois was hitting it's seventh straight month without a budget, the Baby Fold child care and education agency was about $1.7 million in the hole. 

This year, with the budget-less month streak striking 19, the situation is a little bit better, with the state owing the agency about $1.2 million.

"That's because of cutbacks and things we have tried to do to tighten our belt," said Diane Schultz, the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Baby Fold, which has some operations in 22 Illinois counties.

"As we experience turnover in positions, we evaluate every position to see if there's an opportunity to share and distribute tasks so that we don't have to refill those positions," Schultz said.

Schultz said no one's role at the agency is immune to the impacts of staffing cuts.

"We have a planned retirement of an upper tier administrative position, and we are looking at how we can redistribute those supervisory duties across other members of our executive team," she added.

Service in the Baby Fold's residential treatment center continues to bear the brunt of a lack of state funding.  Last year, the Baby Fold slashed its number of beds from 28 to 14. Schultz said this impacts kids under the age of 14 who have serious mental health issues due to trauma or abuse and neglect they have experienced in their lives. So far, no other cuts there have occurred, but Schultz said there are no guarantees.

"We're going to have to continue looking at all of our program operations and make a plan for sustainability. The increasing difficulty is not knowing to what degree the state of Illinois will deliver on their promise they've given us through contractual agreements. We have signed contracts. The state has not paid for services rendered. I think we'll be hearing more about this in the courts," Schultz said. 

The Baby Fold continues to hold a line of credit open to help with cash flow. Schultz said that continues to make sense, compared to dipping into rainy day funds that help secure against emergency situations.

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.