According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 68 people fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Using that benchmark, The Autism Program (TAP) at the University of Illinois is a valuable resource for nearly 3,000 people in Champaign County. It is one of the first points of contact for families who have children with autism. The program operates a resource room that is open 46 hours each week, and they provide information, visual supports, consultation services, referrals, and technical assistance to parents, caregivers, school staff, and individuals with autism.
It has been a difficult time for TAP. Officials of the program—which is the nation’s largest statewide autism service and resource network—were informed that Governor Rauner and the Illinois Department of Human Services have suspended operations of the program for the remainder of the fiscal year, effective immediately. For now, TAP's resource room will be open during the usual hours until May 6th. They will be completing ongoing programs and delivering training that has already been scheduled. More information will be forthcoming.
Check out the video below to see why the program is so important for our community. Special thanks goes out to Emily Thornton, a University of Illinois journalism student, for creating the video.
The Family Resiliency Center hosted a press conference on Thursday, March 5th concerning the findings of the Voices for Illinois Children Kids Count 2015 report. This year’s report, “Illinois Kids Count 2015: Confronting Poverty, Creating Opportunity,” focuses on trends in child poverty over the past 15 years. The report includes a wide range of indicators on statewide trends, as well as changes in the geography of poverty within Champaign County and the state as whole. It also presents data on safety net programs and other policies designed to reduce or alleviate child poverty.
Dr. Barbara Fiese was featured in a story by St. Louis Public Radio about the report and the effects of poverty in Illinois. The demographics of poverty are changing. Child poverty is growing in rural areas and among children under six, and local governments aren't always equiped to respond to it. Says Fiese, "It used to be that half the people living in poverty lived in Cook County and Chicago. Now we're seeing poverty move into rural areas and in mid-sized communities, where there are less available programs to support families in need."
The following speakers spoke at the press conference about how these key trends and issues are impacting our community, how local organizations are addressing them, and what actions our community can take. We thank them for their generosity!
- Beverly Baker, Director of Community Impact, United Way, discussed how the United Way helps keep children and families from entering into poverty
- Julie Pryde, Administrator, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), talked about how children’s poverty at CUPHD is viewed and about the impact of some of the proposed cuts in the Illinois budget
- Stephanie Record, Executive Director, Crisis Nursery, spoke about abuse and neglect in the community and the uptick in demands for the nursery
- Aaron Ebata, The Autism Program, talked about the services and need for The Autism Program and the impact of the proposed Illinois budget cuts
- Darlene Anderson, Bundles of Joy, discussed the importance of child care and the Child Care Assistance Program as well as addressed potential cuts in the budget
Dr. Craig Gundersen Participates in the Illinois Speaker Series
In partnership with Feeding America, one of the nation’s leading organizations in the fight against hunger, the Illinois Lecture Series hosted a luncheon on March 19th at the University Club of Chicago featuring Dr. Craig Gundersen. Gundersen, a prominent voice on food insecurity and the Soybean Industry Endowed Professor of Agricultural Strategy in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, provided an overview of food insecurity, its determinants and consequences, and successful strategies for its reduction in the United States.
New Manuscript Published in Youth & Society
The FRC's military family project had a journal article published in Youth & Society. Headed by a research team of Dr. Leanne Knobloch, Patricia McGlaughlin, and Dr. Aaron Ebata, the project looks at the obstacles and opportunities that military families face during the transition from deployment to reintrigration into society, which is a challenging time for service members, spouses, and children.
This Year's Annual Report
Click the picture for a copy of this year's annual report. The report includes highlights from the Christopher Family Foundation Food and Family Program; the latest information about Mealtime Minutes, the FRC's public service initiative in partnership with The Pampered Chef, Ltd.; our work in looking at food insecurity across the nation; the latest updates of STRONG Kids 2, the FRC's collaborative obesity research project; the exciting evolution of the HDFS 494 course into an online, blended experience; the continuing development of the Sprouts healthy habits curriculum; and highlights from The Autism Program.