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Homecare workers continue to struggle without state budget

hunter homecarestory 030717Ashley’s Quality Care, a 25-year-old social service agency, is on the brink of closure due to the almost-two-year budget stalemate between Republican governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled legislature.

“The governor needs to be truthful and transparent. He needs to make clear his budget plan for the state, bring everyone together and lead us out of the recession we’re beginning to face,” said Michael Robinson, CFO of Ashley’s Quality Care.

Rather than forcing families to put loved ones into nursing facilities, AQC strives to enhance the quality of life for their customers by offering personal care and services to seniors and disabled individuals.

“Our employees cook, clean and handle a lot of the household duties clients are unable to manage,” said Robinson. “We’re blessed to have workers that have stayed loyal to the company throughout this fiscal battle.”  

Typically, AQC receives 99 percent of its funding from the state, but since the impasse, has been working under tight restriction.

“We’re struggling, and I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be able to keep going,” said Robinson. “We’ve gone from 1,000 clients to 400. We’ve also had to cut staff tremendously; going from 900 employees now down to 300.”

The drastic cuts in staff and loss of clients, has been a detriment to any new business for the agency.

“We’ve had to turn away many new clients because of our shortage of workers,” said Robinson. “We’ve also had to pass up prospective employees. Individuals come in looking for work, I tell them ‘Yes, we are hiring, but unfortunately I don’t have the funds to pay you.’”  

After checking the books, he said the agency hasn’t had a decent payroll since last October. He also said the company has been behind on nine staff payrolls, which means workers in the field and the office are not being paid on time for their work.

The social service agency received some financial stability with federal and stopgap budget support. However, the stopgap budget that passed last June, and has since then ended its monetary distributions as of Jan. 1.

“Social services are necessary. I’m not sure what the governor is waiting on, but another year cannot go by. 2018 will have been too long to wait for a budget,” said Robinson.

Like many other non-profit organizations, Ashley’s Quality Care is a resource that provides vital services to the most vulnerable individuals in the state. Without state funding the agency may have to close its doors for good, leaving many struggling and jobless.

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