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A new survey conducted by United Way of Illinois, the statewide association of 52 local United Ways, and the largest non-governmental funder of health and human services in the state, shows the significant impact the State of Illinois budget impasse is having on human services and citizens across the state.

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As we head into the fifth month without a state budget, the havoc and consequences that each day brings for human service agencies statewide continues to mount. And the Boys & Girls Club of Rockford and the youths we serve are feeling the effects of the chaos.

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Volunteering Opportunities with an Emphasis in EducationEducation is one of the most precious gifts you can give a child. United Way of Rock River Valley works hard to make sure that all children in our area get the educational opportunities they need regardless of their socioeconomic status. Here are some education-based service areas to consider as a good way to give back to your community:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_United-Way-of-Rock-River-Valley_Low-Income-Family-Assistance-in_Image-1.jpgHard times hit everyone, and sometimes it is harder for certain families to recover from those difficult times. Here at the United Way of Rock River Valley, we put our focus into helping families who are in need. We have programs in place that can help low-income families achieve 3 main tenets of a happy life.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_United-Way-of-Rock-River-Valley_Volunteering-Is-Good-for-The-Soul_Image-1.jpgWhen people think of self-improvement and making life changes, things like improving your career, reevaluating your exercise patterns and health, working on your sleep habits, and setting goals often come to mind. However, an important consideration and life-changing endeavor that often gets overlooked is volunteering. Read on as we explain the benefits of volunteering and why you should consider volunteering in your community.

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The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) went into effect in 1997 to assist parents who participated in education activities to pay for childcare, moving them from welfare to work. Over the years, CCAP has evolved to serve non-welfare parents earning low wages pay for childcare. Eligibility for childcare subsidy is determined by income and work status. Payment is determined on a sliding fee scale based on income and family size. A series of conditions apply and re-determination is required every six months. CCAP has proven to keep people working and contributing to the economy of our State. CCAP made sense in 1997 when parents needed education to gain employment. CCAP makes sense now to keep families working.

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Promise is a big word. It either makes something or it breaks everything.

As you are aware, the State of Illinois is now entering its fourth straight month without a budget. Lack of a budget resolution means that the state's promise to our local human service providers has been broken. Many of our community's nonprofit agencies are experiencing severe reductions, or even elimination of state funding and are, out of financial necessity, cutting back or sharply reducing their services.

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Meet John and Jane. John and Jane were born in two towns of similar size with the same unemployment rate. But that's where the similarities stop. John grew up in a town with a higher household median income, more affordable housing and lower poverty rate, resulting in better opportunities for John to succeed in life. We can't change the circumstance of John and Jane's lives, and their talents and ambitions play a role in how far they will go in life. But looking at the right measurements and comprehensive information in our community, we can begin to understand the progress needed to boost economic mobility for American.

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Last week was National Tutoring Week (October 5-9). In case you missed the celebrations, Mei Cobb, Director of Volunteer & Employee Engagement at United Way of Worldwide, listed five reasons why someone would want to be a volunteer tutor:

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RAMP is a non-residential Center for Independent Living (CIL) serving individuals with disabilities in Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson and DeKalb counties, providing essential services to ensure some of the state's most vulnerable citizens are able to live independently and participate fully in society.

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Many Illinoisans think that the services provided by social service agencies are for the benefit of the poor only. We constantly hear that social service agencies take care of the "least among us". The truth is much more complex than the perception.

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There are many different challenges that our citizens face every day, such as struggling to find affordable health resources, financial training, or reliable child care. United Way 211, United Way of Rock River Valley is breaking down barriers between those who need help and those who can help them. 

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Purchasing school supplies for the new school year can be increasingly costly, especially for low-income families. According to the annual Huntington Bank Backpack Index, families with more than one child in elementary, middle or high school could expect to spend as much as $3,000 in school supplies and activity fees.

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It's important that young children hear language, and they need to hear it from people, not just from screens. But while we know that reading to a young child is associated with good outcomes, there is only limited understanding of what the mechanism might be. Blogger Perris Klass, M.D. shares two new studies that examine the unexpectedly complex interactions that happen when you put a small child on your lap and open a picture book.

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Last week we concluded the 2015 season of Strong Neighborhoods Days. Thanks to residents, City of Rockford police officers and human services organizations for coming out to Rockford Housing Authority Blackhawk Courts. We look forward to engaging with residents at a neighborhood school during the school year.

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We had another nice turnout for Strong Neighborhoods Days yesterday. Thanks to the residents of Midtown District neighborhood for coming out to our Strong Neighborhoods House location to meet with other residents and connect with community resources. We look forward to connecting with more residents at the two remaining Strong Neighborhoods Days.

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Kids are more likely to succeed in school if they're healthy and well-fed when they enter the classroom. Adults who make healthy choices and have access to affordable health services are more productive in the workplace and their community. When individuals experience better health, they contribute to the collective well-being of the entire community.

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United Way, in collaboration with Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Patriot's Gateway Community Center, Rockford Park District and Youth Services Network, offers a weekly Summer Learning Zone program for children living in Ellis Heights and Midtown District neighborhoods. The program helps students avoid the "summer slide", which occurs once school doors close for the summer.

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Enhanced Communication Ability

Kids who take part in early reading programs are able to use verbal communication and develop enhanced vocabulary skills earlier than other kids their age. But not only does early reading help your young kids with their talking and vocabulary in general, it also helps them recognize letters and words early on--giving their written communication skills a boost.

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MoveTheMiddleNow dolly-parton United Way 211 Make a difference in our community: Volunteer FamilyWize Drug Lookup Tool
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For thousands of area youth, middle school is the defining moment in their lives. See how United Way and its partners are creating a movement to help middle school students achieve success. Visit www.movethemiddlenow.org.

Parents or guardians of children ages birth to five who are residents of Meridian CUSD #223 can register for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library today!

Don't wait another day. Call 2-1-1 to connect with information on counseling programs and support groups to help you reestablish safety and independence.

This free, easy-to-use tool connects your time and talent with volunteer opportunities from local nonprofit organizations. Search by interests and time availability.

Secure the lowest price on your prescription with this free drug lookup tool from our partners at FamilyWize.

We fight for the health, education and financial stability of every family in every neighborhood

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