Illinois senior programs face shutdowns without state and federal budgets

ROCK ISLAND - Illinois-based programs that help seniors could shut down by September without at least stopgap funding.

With the state budget deadline just a day away, providers say their time is running out.

"We don't have a 2018 federal budget, and we don't have an Illinois budget," said Barbara Eskildsen, executive director of the Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging, on Tuesday, May 30.

Eskildsen, who oversees programs in a 10-county region, highlighted uncertainty during a public hearing for 2018 operations.

The agency gets nearly all of its funding from state and federal sources.  But it's only received a small percentage from Illinois since December, and the Trump Administration is threatening drastic cuts.

"It makes me so sad because you can see it crumbling, little by little, that foundation," she continued.

It's a foundation in jeopardy without cash.  Programs will close without quick solutions.

"Is it going to continue into the future?" she asked.  "We don't know."

Providers warn that additional cuts will only cost taxpayers more money in the long run.

That includes cuts to programs that promote independent living.

"Those choices have been going down, down," said Kathy Weiman, CEO at Alternatives for Older Adults in Moline.

Cuts that put more seniors into expensive nursing homes.

"That's five to 10 times more costly than helping them stay in their home, where they want to be, and where we want them to be," Weiman continued.

Without at least stopgap funding from Springfield, Eskildsen warns that the situation will worsen.

"We will have no state funding," she concluded.  "That will impact every human service organization."

With time already running out, these agencies are bracing for impact.