Providers reflect on the uncertain future of behavioral health

WSIL — Programs that serve at-risk youth are shutting down due to Illinois’ budget crisis. Now, other agencies struggle to fill in the gaps.

“Our worry is January 1st is coming and what’s going to happen after that we don’t know,” says Sherrie Crabb, Executive Director of Family Counseling Center.

She feels like she’s walking a tight-rope while trying balance funding for all of her services.

Meanwhile, the state wavers going from no state budget to a six-month stopgap resolution and court decrees.

She explains, “That’s why we’ve been able to stay afloat is because of those lawsuits and consent decrees, but there is a portion of the funding that is not covered by consent decrees or lawsuits, so that come January they may cease to exist if another spending plan is not passed or a full budget.”

It’s jeopardizing programs for runaway and homeless youth, crisis intervention and housing assistance for people with mental illness.

But Crabb says, “basic outpatient mental health and substance abuse programming is going to be just fine. We will still provide crisis intervention services in our community even though that funding may go away.”

Centerstone already closed their crisis center this past summer because of Illinois’ budget crisis.

CEO John Markely says it was a move to preserve other vital programs.

He says, “People will be sitting out front, literally crying about, ‘what do I do about this, where do I go,’ and fortunately that are going there are going there for that reason to say, ‘I know where you can go report to an emergency room.'”

Markley says he doesn’t foresee any additional cuts to programs or staff, but it’s hard to gauge with such an uncertain political future.

“We’ll provide services and live within our means, but will we get paid for them or when will we get paid for them is probably the more accurate question, and that we’ve seen go on for a long time and many agencies cannot sustain themselves,” he says.

Markley says he looks forward to the new legislatures taking office and hopefully making progress.

He says Dave Severin, who just won the 117th district seat also serves on the Centerstone board.

Michelle Madaras
Nov 30, 2016