We Want You to Know the Impact the Government Shutdown is Having on Catholic Charities and Our Clients
Since midnight on October 1, federal agencies have furloughed hundreds of thousands of employees and reduced services to only “essential functions” – actions which have had real impacts on social service agencies throughout the country.
It is predicted that if Congress agrees to reopen the government, the agreement may only hold until mid-January. If that is the case, I will surely be sending a second update at that time.
Below please find the ways in which our programs at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet and our clients have been impacted by the Government Shutdown:
1) Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet was set to expand direct services to veterans beginning October 1, 2013. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago recently received a $1,007,000 federal Veterans Case Management Grant to assist a total of 200 veteran households in the greater metropolitan Chicago area. Our Agency is a partner in this critical endeavor and was to receive 40% of this funding ($402,800) to implement needed services to 75 veteran households in Will, DuPage, and Kankakee Counties starting October 1, 2013. Due to the government shutdown, the new VCM grant is closed. Our partner, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, cannot submit any expenses to be reimbursed including staff salaries and equipment. Although the grant was slated to begin on Oct. 1, we are not ready to serve clients yet. However, the Agency is moving ahead with interviewing and hiring staff for the program in Will and Kankakee.
2) Social Security staff cutbacks has had two impacts: 1) inability to resolve payment disputes and other Social Security related issues; 2) inability to obtain replacement Social Security cards, which directly impact our clients’ ability to obtain State-issued photo IDs as Social Security cards are usually one of the required documents for obtaining a State-issued photo ID. A photo ID is essential in the employment hiring process and to apply for other benefits.
- Homeless assistance programs are unaffected because they are categorized as essential and are operating off of funding appropriated in prior fiscal years.
- Block grant programs continue to operate on funding that has already been appropriated.
- The number of HUD staff working will continue to dwindle as the shutdown continues and could cause challenges with program administration.
As the Northeastern Illinois Agency on Aging (NEIL) rarely receives any funds before November, grantee agencies have to make decisions about whether to spend grant funds before funds are available every year. So this is nothing new. At Catholic Charities, we have typically delayed spending any “pass-through” funds or direct service dollars until we know the funds are actually available for reimbursement.
Our Head Start program is particularly fortunate to have its grant cycle begin on January 1st annually. As a result, (unlike other Head Start programs around the country), all Catholic Charities Head Start locations have remained open with no disruption in services.
The government shutdown is having no impact on our counseling programs at this time.