DANVILLE – Julia Lawless has already contacted her state legislators to call attention to the lack of reimbursement for services and the recent cuts in human services.
"I've known there's been a problem, but it hasn't been until recently that I actually made a call," said Lawless, a licensed practical nurse at Crosspoint Human Services in Danville.
She's also brought the subject up with drug company representatives who do business with Crosspoint.
"Our clients are upset. They want to know what's going to happen to them if they can't get their medications," she said. "It's scary for them. They're doing what they are supposed to be doing to get better – and if they lose their medications, then what?
"The drug reps have an interest because they could lose us as a client, too."
Worrying about clients seemed to be on several employees' minds at a meeting Monday to discuss the financial straits brought on by state budget cuts.
"Recovery is our primary goal," said Randi Jones, supervisor of psycho-social rehabilitation services. "I witness people on the road to recovery. These people will be helpless and hopeless."
Thom Pollock, Crosspoint executive director, is holding a series of meetings with the agencies Crosspoint oversees in addition to its own facility, including Screening Assessment & Support Services in Champaign and McLean counties, Child & Family Connection Birth to 3 in McLean and Vermilion counties and Your Family Resource Connection domestic violence and day care services in Danville.
"We're not here to talk about cuts the state is making in human services," Pollock told a packed room Monday morning at the Crosspoint facility in Danville. "We're here because the money we've already earned from the state is critical, and the state is not paying its bills."
Pollock was explaining the strain that lack of payment has placed on the agency's budget and, therefore, payroll. He was encouraging employees to write, e-mail and call Illinois government officials and urge the release of money for the services Crosspoint has already rendered.
Crosspoint employs about 200 people and serves nearly 5,000 people annually.
He told the crowd of about 50 people – staff members, clients and representatives from other social service agencies – that it is time to speak out.
"Human services, in general, have been quiet in the past," he said. "But I'm telling you the cash flow situation is so dire, we are going to be in a world of hurt in October. I think that if we make noise, we will rise to the top. In the meantime, we will run our agency with our dedicated staff, but we would like to get the money we have already earned."
"Everyone needs to advocate for our jobs, our services and the people we serve. Talk to your clients' families and your friends and neighbors. Write letters, send e-mails, make phone calls to our legislators and those in leadership roles," he said.
State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, backed Pollock's emphasis on the need to contact legislators.
"The governor's answer to our financial problems is fund transfers, selling off assets and cutting parks and human services," Frerichs said. "Frankly, the parks are generating 10 times more calls than human services cuts. That's because the people you serve don't speak up.
"They need you to speak for them."
Frerichs recommends people personalize their letters to officials.
"Don't sign petitions or sign copies of letters. Tell them where you work and who will suffer and what it means to you and your clients if payments are not received and cuts are not restored," he said.
Karen Kracht, human resource director of Crosspoint, said employees are afraid for their jobs and the people they serve.
"We can't put 70 people in residential care out on the streets," she said. "Other places would be hard hit if services stop – emergency rooms, police stations."