Public Policy Success

Results of Recent Work

United Way Advocacy Helps Preserve Community Schools Funding

United Way teamed up with several concerned organizations to prevent a funding crisis for community schools across Illinois. Our unified approach improved how the state handles 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding, which prevented 322 schools serving more than 30,000 students from losing access to individual services in June.

In addition, 98 communities did not lose infrastructure, relationships and school-wide supports that reach thousands of other students and their families. 21st CCLC grants are an integral funding source for community schools and the state’s cap of two grant cycles threatened to undermine many of these partnerships.

We brought the issue to the attention of Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) leadership and presented practical policy options that could fix the funding problem.

More Illinoisans Now Have Health Coverage

United Way supported the expansion of Medicaid in Illinois last year, as well as new insurance marketplaces created as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These changes made 67% of Illinois’ 1.8 million uninsured residents eligible for financial assistance to gain coverage through either Medicaid or the state’s marketplace, Get Covered Illinois. Adults without children became eligible for Medicaid, thanks to the ACA, and many others were able to use subsidies to buy insurance that they couldn’t affordable before the ACA.

By mid-2014, more than 217,000 Illinoisans signed up for insurance through the state’s marketplace. About 77% of those with marketplace insurance received a subsidy to pay for some of the cost. About 38,500 were added to Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and adult dental coverage through Medicaid was restored during the Spring legislative session in Springfield.

Earned Income Tax Credit Continues to Help Working Families

Illinois’ Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is now 10% of the federal EITC, the result of United Way-backed legislation that has doubled the state EITC since 2011. The state raised the EITC in stages, from 5% in 2011 to 7.5% in 2012 and finally 10% in 2013. With that final increase, more than 900,000 working families received $160 million in tax relief last year.

The EITC is an important anti-poverty policy that provides low-income individuals an incentive to work. It also boosts local economies as the tax savings allows working families to buy needed items in their community. Studies have shown that every dollar a family saves with the EITC results in additional economic activity in local economies.

United Way Leads Efforts to Expand 2-1-1

United Way’s work to bring 2-1-1 to Illinois has resulted in expanded coverage over the past four years and a growing number of residents receiving help connecting with human services providers. The toll-free, 24-hour information line that connects people with human service providers began in 2009 as a pilot project covering three areas of the state: Quad Cities; Greater St. Louis area; and McLean, DeWitt and Livingston counties in central Illinois.

Since the three pilots received permanent approval, service has expanded to fully cover 20 counties in the state. Of Illinois’s 102 counties, 97 now have a service agreement with a 2-1-1 call center. In 2013, 2-1-1 operators answered 71,013 calls to meet immediate needs, including food, shelter, mental health services and employment support. Call volume has more than tripled since 2010, when 20,590 calls were answered.

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