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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2002

Governor Announcements Give Preview of State of the State Address
Touts expansion of workforce advantage program and submission of a request for waiver for FamilyCare program

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today gave a preview of the state of the state and budget address with the announcement of the expansion of the Illinois Workforce Advantage Program into South Lawndale. Illinois Workforce Advantage is the state program designed to strengthen the state's delivery of human services and bolster economic development in Illinois' distressed communities.

The Governor also announced that the state had submitted a request to the federal government that could allow Illinois to fund the FamilyCare initiative--which would be an expansion of the state's KidCare Insurance program to include parents and caregivers of KidCare enrollees.

The Illinois Workforce Advantage Program was launched in September 2000 in six pilot communities--south suburban Harvey, East St. Louis, the North Lawndale, Humboldt Park and Englewood neighborhoods in Chicago and in the "southern seven" counties--Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union.

Although the strategies in each community varies according to that area's needs, certain critical initiatives are the same in each community and given high priority throughout the project.

The core strategies are:

  1. Working with local and state agencies to create virtual family resource centers, making services accessible and empowering parents to strengthen their neighborhoods;

  2. Tailoring state economic development initiatives to the economic deficits and strengths in each place;

  3. Strengthening juvenile delinquency prevention and crime prevention efforts;

  4. Targeting environmental issues that impact community revitalization;

  5. And training and infrastructure program to bridge the "Digital Divide."

"The Illinois Workforce Advantage program is right now active in six areas of the state, helping families and community leaders create jobs, improve education and health care and making sure that the services of state government aren't passing them by," Governor Ryan said. "I'm confident that in the future this new partnership is going to mean many positive things for the people of this community, just as it has for meant great things for the existing communities working with us."

Governor Ryan also announced a $200,000 grant for the Lawndale Christian Community Health Center and Farragut High School from the current budget and in the budget for 2003. The center will provide a wide array of basic medical services to the people of the community. The money for the clinic is coming from the state's share of the national settlement agreement with tobacco companies. The plan is to eventually open 10 community clinics throughout the state.

"Making quality healthcare accessible to everyone in this state is a top priority of my administration," Governor Ryan added.

In response to the need to provide insurance to uninsured parents, Governor Ryan also announced the state had submitted a proposal seeking a waiver to fund the FamilyCare Program--which would be an expansion of the state's KidCare Insurance program to include adults.

"I've said many times in the past that the concept of FamilyCare is something that we in Illinois should pursue if we could ever find a way to pay for it," Governor Ryan said. "I think we've found a way to pay for it and today we're going to submit the idea to the federal government.

"If they agree, then Illinois would be eligible for a huge pot of federal money to pay for the program.

"Eventually, the Family Care waiver could cover as many as 200,000 low-income parents of KidCare enrollees."

Last month, the state received approval from the federal government to begin the innovative Senior Care Program. The proposed program is modeled on the state’s existing Circuit Breaker/Pharmaceutical Assistance program, administered by the Department of Revenue. Once enrolled, an individual would remain eligible for 12 months, and participants will have similar cost sharing responsibilities. The current Illinois Circuit Breaker program will continue to serve eligible seniors earning between 200 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level as well as disabled citizens.

The new program will provide a broad pharmaceutical benefit to eligible low-income Illinois seniors age 65 and older. Those with annual incomes up to about $17,200 for a single person and $23,220 for a couple will qualify without being subject to an asset test. The program is scheduled to begin June 1, 2002.

“The lack of access to prescription drugs for the elderly is one of the most significant issues confronting our national health care system,” Governor Ryan said. “This progressive initiative will provide an immediate benefit to Illinois seniors.”

Governor Ryan also announced funding in the current budget and in next year's budget to build more group homes to allow developmentally disabled persons to reside in a system of small group homes at state facilities. He also announced a plan to build new Community Integrated Living Arrangements--or CILAs--that will give as many as 300 additional individuals the choice to live in the community.

The governor thanked the participants in the Illinois Assembly process, legislators, the state agencies and the leaders of United Power for Action and Justice who worked on promoting the Family Care initiative.



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