Friday, July 17, 2009

What Are Your Community Partners Going Through Right Now?

Amy, Spanish CSL student, working at ECIRMAC

by Ann Abbott

I hear lots of news stories about how California's budget crisis is affecting social service agencies and the people they serve, but every state seems to be facing the same thing.

How are your community partners doing?

As we all wait to know just how bad the budget cuts are going to be, here is a glimpse of how one of my community partners, East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center, is feeling the impact:

"At this time there have been no cuts in positions at the Refugee Center but long term there will be a negative impact. Staff is worried as they are well aware of the financial difficulties. They are also seeing an increase of demand for the services they provide as families start to implode due to the economic downturn. We are seeing more domestic issues, more parenting problems, more mental health issues, more calls for help in accessing services provided by state offices. The agency does not have the funding to hire or increase staff time to meet these demands and unless the funding can be replaced there may need to be cuts in staff.As the staff is bi-lingual, bi-cultural such cuts could affect the delivery of services of other agencies with which we collaborate."

Will your community partners still be here next year? Will they be able to accomodate your students with their thinned-out staff? Will they need even more of your students. Tell me how the budget cuts are affecting your community partners and your community service-learning partnerships.

UPDATE: Illinois does has a budget now, but there are still unanswered questions and agencies are afraid of getting late or reduced payments.

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