Stretched Thinner: MCCA Clings To Services

Feb 2, 2017

Mid Central Community Action is an agency with roots in the Great Society programs of the Johnson administration.
Credit MCCA

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.  

Mid Central Community Action in Bloomington is keeping its head above water as it tries to deliver services to the homeless, to those escaping and recovering from domestic violence, and to those who are trying to stabilize their lives.

A year ago, the agency cut a third of its workforce entirely and reduced pay for many remaining employees by 20%.

Director Deb White said the state of Illinois remains three months behind in state funding for Neville House, which serves adults and children trying to get away from domestic violence. White said the community has been generous. There have been no further cuts beyond the reduction of an entire shift last year.

White warned, as the state budget standoff continues, if there is no Department of Human Service funding, Community Action would be forced to cut youth services and parental training to help make children safer.

"That training is critical to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse," said White.

The state domestic violence grant for Neville House is $373,000. White said she has been told they will see it, but have no idea when. Community action has not had to use lines of credit, but reserves are diminishing. White said they can survive through the end of the fiscal year.

Community Action's Mayor's Manor program serves 26 residents. White said without state funding those people who have been homeless and who have disabilities would be back on the streets.

White acknowledges there has also seen increased demand for domestic violence services linked to the widespread service cuts.

"When there is stress in the home, that can exacerbate behaviors of power and control. With a lack of funding or lack of employment, problems in the home can get worse," said White.

One area that might have to be cut, White said, would be the training for law enforcement, clergy, churches, on domestic violence protocols.

"The uncertainty is not only our state funding. it's the United Way. It's our federal funding. There's talk at the federal level of reducing our community service block grant by 50%. There's talk about the Violence Against Women Act and that authorization," said White.

She said there's uncertainty at the federal level, at the state level, and the local level. And White said that makes it very difficult to plan strategically for service delivery.

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.