Roman J. Salamon

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Human services are essential and saves the state significant dollars

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RAMP is a non-residential Center for Independent Living (CIL) serving individuals with disabilities in Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson and DeKalb counties, providing essential services to ensure some of the state's most vulnerable citizens are able to live independently and participate fully in society.

As a human service provider in Illinois, the budget impasse has become a reality that should not be allowed to occur. If I did not provide my Board with a budget at the appointed time, I would be derelict of my duties and non-compliant in my fiduciary responsibilities and, I suspect, in jeopardy of termination. I challenge my local legislators, those who agreed to comply with their assigned duties, one of which is to help develop a state budget, to rise up in their own parties and call for an end to this nonsense. Illinois needs a budget and we need a Governor and legislators doing the jobs for which they were elected.

Now don't get me wrong, I want the state's budget issues to be resolved as much as the next property owner, but in a logical, collaborative, non-partisan way – the same way I am required to work. If logic and thought were put to our state budget, including how human services are to be supported, you would have my attention. But the fact that this impasse is based on issues other than the budget is getting absurd.

For anyone who truly knows me, I am very conservative. I believe that human service providers should be held to high standards and that our results should justify the support that we receive from the state, or any other supporters. And because my beliefs align with the fact that RAMP is upholding our end of that bargain, I feel embolden to speak out.

Since 1999, we have assisted 167 individuals move from institutions back into the community at an average lifetime savings per individual of $102,517. When you extend those savings out over the last 15 years, minus the cost of running the program, we have saved the state almost $12 million by giving individuals the ability to live in the community and take their rightful place in society. After all, no one ever earns a paycheck lying in a nursing home.

In just the past couple of years, RAMP has assisted 42 individuals with disabilities find jobs. With an average hourly wage of just $10.09 and some able to work less than 25 hours per week, these individuals have still generated income to pay taxes, buy groceries and limit government support at a difference of almost $200,000 more than the cost to run the program.

The services we provide to individuals with traumatic brain injuries by helping them stay in their homes and out of institutions saves the state $32,316 per person each year they remain in their own home. Currently, we are serving 78 individuals which translates to more than $2.5 million in savings just this year!

But these services may not endure if Illinois continues without a budget. As I watch our Accounts Payable climb higher, so does my fear that a long-term impasse with halted funding and non-payment of contracts will result in calamities this state has never seen. Without continued funding, we will be unable to provide the services necessary for individuals with disabilities to obtain gainful employment, continue living independently or transition out of institutions.

RAMP is providing essential services, doing it at a cost-savings to the state AND being efficient with the dollars entrusted to us as evidenced by our outcomes. We are doing our part, when will the state do theirs?

- Julie Bosma, Executive Director of RAMP

 


This article was originally published in the Rockford Register Star on Sunday, October 11, 2015. Learn how you can take action to support area families during this budget impasse by visiting www.unitedwayrrv.org/saveilfamilies.

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