Broad Shoulders Update

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Archive for the ‘children’ tag

Today in Equity

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Daily equity news

Detroit: The Death — and Possible Life — of a Great City,” - TIME MAGAZINE

If Detroit had been savaged by a hurricane and submerged by a ravenous flood, we’d know a lot more about it. If drought and carelessness had spread brush fires across the city, we’d see it on the evening news every night. Earthquake, tornadoes, you name it — if natural disaster had devastated the city that was once the living proof of American prosperity, the rest of the country might take notice. (See pictures of the remains of Detroit.)

But Detroit, once our fourth largest city, now 11th and slipping rapidly, has had no such luck. Its disaster has long been a slow unwinding that seemed to remove it from the rest of the country. Even the death rattle that in the past year emanated from its signature industry brought more attention to the auto executives than to the people of the city, who had for so long been victimized by their dreadful decision-making.

Geoffrey Canada’s initiative, Harlem Children’s Zone, has grown to reach 8,000 children across nearly 100 city blocks,” - The Christian Science Monitor

Geoffrey Canada still remembers the saddest day in his first nine years on earth. Back then, Mr. Canada clung to superheroes – and to Superman especially. He liked the guy, but he especially liked the idea he symbolized: immediate and dramatic salvation. In his earliest days, Superman was a social-justice hero, saving a man from a lynch mob, fighting fires, stopping robberies – rescuing people from the same kinds of dangers that seemed to lurk, in the 1960s, in Canada’s rough South Bronx neighborhood. Superman, Canada had decided, was just the guy to fix a neighborhood full of poverty and drugs, to rescue Canada and his friends, to bring a little optimism to the merciless streets.

A Brooklyn of Wealth and Needs Gets a Major Charity All Its Own,” - The New York Times

Brooklyn, which never fully recovered from merging with Manhattan and losing the Dodgers, is about to get new fuel to stoke its stubborn brand of local pride: It is now rich enough to support a major charity of its own.

The Independence Community Foundation, long the largest private charity based in the borough, is changing its tax status so it can raise money rather than simply rely on income from its roughly $50 million endowment.

Written by Keith Forest

September 29th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Advancing Human Rights: School-Based Health Centers

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Editor's Note: This post is the first in a new monthly feature - "Advancing Human Rights" - that is dedicated to highlighting programs that have been instrumental in advancing human rights through reducing poverty and affirming dignity. If you know of a program that deserves recognition, please feel free to contact us.

August is quickly turning into September, and school is beginning for students all across Illinois. While students are surely worrying about new clothes, new books, preseason sports, and socializing with fellow classmates, there is one thing that many kids won't have to worry about: staying healthy.

Thanks to School-Based Health Centers, Illinois students across the state have access to 46 high-quality diverse health resources that are located right on their school grounds. These centers provide an array of different services, such as primary care, medication distribution, mental health, health education and preventive services.

These centers need to be promoted for three reasons: Filling Service Gaps, Providing Dignified Services and Opportunity for Expansion.

Filling Services Gaps

Given that 16.6% of all Illinois children liven in poverty, School Health Center's play a vital role in ensuring that the state's youth are adequately prepared to succeed in school.

According to the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers, last year Illinois School Health Centers provided services to 25,825 different children, totaling 117,985 visits. Of those youth, 6,793 of them did not have health insurance. That is almost 7,000 children who got treated for things like depression, respiratory diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder and physical injury who otherwise would have gone without treatment.

For example, imagine a child who has undiagnosed attention-deficit disorder who is also suffering from symptoms of depression as a result of bullying. Or picture a child who has severe asthma, but does not have the means to purchase an inhaler. Is it realistic to think that either of these children is mentally or physically prepared to reach his or her full academic potential while battling these untreated ailments?

Advocates for School Health Centers don't think so, and they have done the research and have also found evidence to prove it. The 2007 Illinois Kids Count shows that:
  • Only half of Illinois children have a “medical home,” or access to a primary care provider from whom they receive comprehensive medical care.
  • 38 counties have no pediatricians, 84 counties have no pediatric dentists, and 39 counties have no psychologists or psychiatrists
The Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers also cited a 2003 report done by the Illinois Children's Mental Heal Task Force that found that:
Nearly one-quarter of Illinois adolescents and one-third of Chicago adolescents self-reported signs of depression for two or more weeks in a row. Untreated mental health problems impact students’ ability to learn and increase their propensity for violence, alcohol and substance abuse and other risky behaviors that are costly to treat.
Illinois School Health Centers directly combat these barriers to academic success that a large number of this state's youth face. Youth are not the only benefactors of these programs, however, as teacher's and their families benefit as well.

Providing Dignified Services

School Health Centers provide teachers and parents alike with vital wraparound services. If a teacher suspects that a child is ill, either physically or emotionally, the proximity of available services makes it more likely that these teachers will make sure their students access said services.

The location of these health centers reinforce a person-centered approach to providing services.
Often families without medical homes have to travel long distances to below-average facilities for the most rudimentary of care. If the services they are seeking are mental health related, this carries along with it a stigma which can perpetuate disincentives to seeking services. This entire process can strip these families of their pride and dignity, which just adds to an already long list of barriers to accessing services.

By making services readily available on a daily basis
, School Health Centers effectively encourage children and families to seek help in ways that other health care providers simply cannot. As we have said before, access to health care is a human right. Illinois School Health Centers have proven to be instrumental in realizing this right for the youth, and therefore the future, of Illinois.

Opportunities For Expansion

The effectiveness of services, along with evidence of cost-effectiveness made School Health Center implementation a national priority. The Senate HELP Committee, which has penned one of three major national health care reform bills, has specific language in their health reform legislation about investing in School Health Centers by:
Improving access to care by providing additional funding to increase the number of community health centers and school-based health centers.
Congress is also working to ensure that School Health Centers are eligible to be reimbursed by Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Considering that 55% of all Illinois children who accessed these services had Medicaid as their primary health insurance, this legislation would be immensely valuable. Expanding payment options would increase revenue streams for the program, which could expand and improve services. This trickle down affect would in turn, aid the youth of Illinois in reaching their full academic potential.

Locally, the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers are organizing a "Health is Academic" campaign that is designed to promote these programs throughout the state. You can find all pertinent material to help their advocacy efforts here.

Written by Tim Klein

August 27th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Just More Questions on This Year’s Illinois Budget

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We now have answers to what the state budget looks like for this fiscal year, right?

Last Friday, Governor Quinn gave the details on the how he is allocating the lump sums given to him by the General Assembly when they passed a budget on July 15. As you may recall, $2.2 billion was to be used for human services, with another $1.2 billion with no restrictions. The Governor did provide a great deal of detail in his budget, giving line item allocations for all the larger state agencies. From this information, we know a few good things. Childcare funding and HIV/AIDS funding, received more or less level funding as compared to Fiscal Year 2009 levels.

We also know some bad things.

Homeless Youth – cut by over 20%

Mental Health – Community Based Programs – Cut by over 20%

Refugee Mental Health – Cut by over 13%

Homelessness Prevention – cut by 80%

We will come back to homelessness prevention in another post, but lets go over what is going through the head of our state’s human service providers right now. It is not answers, but a lot of questions:

1) When will I get paid for my Fiscal Year 2009 contract?

Remember FY09? Providers do. They remember that they are owed months and months of back pay. Maybe they will see it by the end of August, maybe not. They have been dealing with intense cash flow issues as a result, even if they did layoffs and program cutbacks on July 1.

2) What will my Fiscal Year 2010 contract be?

While the Governor has announced his allocations, state agencies are still figuring out the exact contract amounts and what wiggle room they have to shift around dollars. and providers are still waiting to see the dollar figure on their formal contract.

3) What will the reserve be?

The Governor’s office had been talking about the need for a $1.1 billion reserve. Is that still on the table? How does that translate to human service provider’s contract? Will they have to hold back 5%? 10%? If the full contract has a cut in it, plus there is a mandatory reserve on top of that (which, lets be honest, is a cut), the amount of money available to run important programs is greatly diminished.

4) When will I get paid for my Fiscal Year 2010 contract?

You think the delay in payments for FY09 is bad, just wait for this year. Keep in mind, we are already over a month into FY10. So, they have not been paid for FY09 in many months. They have no contract for FY10, cut or not, and have no idea when they will get paid for that new contract. This all leads to the last question:

5) How am I expected to keep my doors open?

Whether we are talking about a program or an entire agency, it is hard to overstate the stress involved in managing this financial mess. Credit lines are tapped out, cash reserves are wiped out, and another payroll is around the corner. You can try to open another line of credit, but that has interest and fees, and you certainly are not getting more money from somewhere to cover those costs. You can turn to your donors and foundations, but they are just as hurt by the recession as everybody else.

We are not out of this mess.

Not by a longshot. In the days and weeks to come, we will probably hear of more providers that have to do layoffs and service cuts because the money is just not there to keep going. And we have not even touched on the fact that there is still a deficit and the state is going to run out of money before FY10 is out. And do not even get me started on FY11.

Answers? Not so much.

Written by Doug Schenkelberg

August 4th, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Health Care is A Human Right, But What About Access To It?

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This past weekend marked the tenth anniversary of Remote Area Medical (RAM) turning a fairground in Wise, Virginia into a mobile hospital, with volunteer doctors and nurses providing free medical services to as many people as they possibly could within a 48 window. The turnout for the event was staggering: 2,715 people were provided services, estimated at over $1.5 million dollars worth of care. Much praise is due to RAM. They have worked tirelessly to provide a service that, judging by the number of people served, is sorely needed. So, one more time for emphasis: Three cheers to RAM. Your work is appreciated and admired.

However, in the wake of tipping our collective caps to all the volunteers and staff at RAM and calling it a day, a crucial question emerges from this story:


Why has an organization that was initially formed to help indigenous people in the depths of the Amazon shifted its focus to providing aid to Americans? An important caveat to this question: of the 2,715 people served this past weekend in Wise, Virginia, 49 percent of them had health insurance.

So why did over 1,000 people decide travel from over 16 states to wait for what was in some cases over two days, to be treated by volunteers in a run down fairground? RAM's answer to this question comes in the form of the demand for services. The recipients of RAM's services surely turn to the lack of supply when justifying their answers.

It appears families in Illinois can attest to that lack of supply.

A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that the percentage of children in Illinois living in poverty increased 13 percent between 2000 and 2007, from 15 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2007. This research, coupled with a recent report by the University of Chicago which discovered that kids born into poverty, due to medical reasons, are four times less likely to be prepared for school as their better off peers, serves as a reminder the importance of health care.

As more and more Illinois children fall into poverty they become more likely to lose their health care benefits. Illinois already has a population of over 250,000 children without health coverage. Not even the ambitious effort's of RAM would suffice in properly treating the children of Illinois who face the everyday dangers that the absence of health care presents.

The very existence of RAM and the current state of the uninsured in Illinois is an all-too-real graphic representation of the United States failure to adequately provide its citizens a crucial human right: health care. Although some may argue that health care is not a human right, United States law would disagree with them, so its a moot point.

Yes, you read correctly. Even though the United States may not view housing as a human right, current law acknowledges that health care is.

This acknowledgment comes in the form of the
Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA).

The EMTALA was enacted to:
ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (MSE) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (EMC), including active labor, regardless of an individual's ability to pay. Hospitals are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with EMCs. If a hospital is unable to stabilize a patient within its capability, or if the patient requests, an appropriate transfer should be implemented.
If a person goes into a hospital seeking aid, the hospital is required by law to provide basic services to that person regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

This sort of language sounds similar to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Especially Article 25 passage:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
The advent of Medicaid and Medicare also bolster the argument that health care in the United States is a human right. If health care is a right afforded to every American, than why did all those people travel for RAM's services? The people who traveled far and wide and waited for hours on end did not go to Wise, Virginia because they were denied health care. They went because they were denied, in one form or another, access to health care. Where the United States has failed its citizens is not necessarily in recognizing the right to health care, but in the actual realization of the various aspects of that right.

Take for instance the 40 million (a modest estimate) uninsured people in this country, including the 250,000 children of Illinois. What happens if they catch the flu? Sprain their ankle? Get food poisoning? Since they do not have any formal access to care, they will use the emergency room as their one stop shop for medicine. Unfortunately, this is a massively expensive one-stop shop.

Malcom Gladwell
documented these expenses for three homeless residents in Reno, Nevada:
"We tracked those three individuals through just one of our two hospitals. One of the guys had been in jail previously, so he'd only been on the streets for six months. In those six months, he had accumulated a bill of a hundred thousand dollars—and that's at the smaller of the two hospitals near downtown Reno. It's pretty reasonable to assume that the other hospital had an even larger bill. Another individual came from Portland and had been in Reno for three months. In those three months, he had accumulated a bill for sixty-five thousand dollars. The third individual actually had some periods of being sober, and had accumulated a bill of fifty thousand."
The emergency room is supposed to be for just that: emergencies. But if there is no alternative for the uninsured and under-insured to go, of course they will go to the ER, even for the smallest of problems. Unfortunately this scenario only compounds a rapidly growing problem: Emergency room visits are not only massively expensive, but they provide a quality of service that is much lower than other medical providers.
Heartland Alliance's recent study of residents in supportive housing demonstrates both the cost-savings and beneficial effects of a more human system.

When arguing and advocating for health care reform in this country it is important to remember that health care is already a human right. How that right is fully realized is the issue. Will we maintain the status quo in the form of a system that provides minimal care to the under-represented at a great financial burden to taxpayers? Or will this country recognize that without access to quality health care, the right of health care itself is just rhetoric?

Either way, this country will continue to provide health care to all its citizens. Whether it is done in a financially and systemically efficient way that increases access for all remains to be seen.

Written by Tim Klein

July 28th, 2009 at 6:15 pm


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Film premier: “War on the Family”; citywide meeting on school closings; gay rights rallies; Cardinal George at CeaseFire in Logan Square; a local Muslim leader on the U.S. and Afghanistan; Chicago lawyers on torture at Guantanamo and in Chicago; Jewish peace groups meet on Gaza crisis.   

Written by archive

January 9th, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Did you miss these? (December 20, 2008)

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A recape of this week’s equity news

 ”Poverty off political radar,” - Washington Times
Edwards’ issue seen as ‘casualty’ of indiscretion

Believers in John Edwards are urging President-elect Barack Obama to forgive the former presidential candidate’s indiscretions and consider him for an administration post or at least elevate Mr. Edwards’ signature issue of poverty.

Friends, former aides and even the Virginia man whom Mr. Edwards made central to his fight for universal health care say the Democrat should be given another chance.

Leaner nations bike, walk, use mass transit,” - Associated Press
Link found between ‘active transportation’ and less obesity in 17 countries

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Jim Richards is no kid, but he loves to ride his bike. At 51, he has become a cycling commuter, pedaling 11 miles from his home in the suburbs to his job in downtown Knoxville.

“It really doesn’t take that much longer” than driving, he insists.

And he gets 40 minutes of exercise twice a day without going to the gym, which he attributes to a 20-pound weight loss.

 ”North Texas Food Bank program gives kids healthy snacks for the weekend,” - The Dallas Morning News

Hundreds of kids eagerly line up in the James Bowie Elementary School gym after lunch every Friday, wearing their blue backpacks open against their stomachs.

Five-year-old Agustin Granados stood at the front of the line last week to receive his sack of nutritious snacks for the weekend from the North Texas Food Bank. His school, James Bowie Elementary in north Oak Cliff, is one of 269 that participate in the Food 4 Kids program. One by one, physical education teacher Sharon Foster fills each of their packs with a plastic grocery bag full of food. The milk, cereal, crackers and other nutritious snacks come through the North Texas Food Bank and are intended to keep the kids from going hungry over the weekend, when they can’t rely on school breakfasts or lunches.”Thank you, coach,” they say as they zip up their packs.

Jane Addams Day/Gay Day

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An interesting conjunction of events -  a nationwide protest against California’s recent vote against gay marriage falling on Jane Addams day, December 10, the state holiday marking the date that Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Gay rights advocates including the Gay Liberation Network protest at the Cook County Marriage License Bureau, 118 N. Clark, [...]

Written by archive

December 10th, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Did You Miss These? (October 24 Edition)

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A recap of this week’s equity news.

8,800 Road Home properties to return to private hands, ” - Times Picayune

Actor Wendell Pierce and trumpeter Terence Blanchard have come back to their old neighborhood, Pontchartrain Park, and are poised to take over one of every nine properties there — so they can build and sell affordable homes,
On Monday, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority will vote on an agreement to transfer 114 abandoned and vacant properties to Pierce and Blanchard’s Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp. It’s a big moment for the star of HBO’s cop drama “The Wire,” the Grammy-winning musician and some of their childhood buddies and fellow investors, who want to return New Orleans’ first middle-class black subdivision to its pre-Katrina glory.

Homeless numbers ‘alarming’,” - USA Today

More families with children are becoming homeless as they face mounting economic pressures, including mortgage foreclosures, according to a USA TODAY survey of a dozen of the largest cities in the nation.

Local authorities say the number of families seeking help has risen in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Washington.

ACORN fights back,” - San Francisco Chronicle

In the midst of the predictable partisan exaggerations, distortions and occasional lies that close election races generate, ACORN has become the focus of an extraordinary amount of attention over our voter-registration program. We submitted nearly 40,000 voter registration applications in San Diego and throughout California, and 1.3 million nationwide. In communities across the country, anxiety about the direction of our country, and more specifically our economy, is driving much of the interest in this year’s presidential election. Voter turnout is expected to be of historic proportions. What is surprising is that these attacks, issued from partisan sources, have become relentless, and wildly exaggerated. We’ve even been accused by some Republicans of causing the global economic crisis.

The truth, plain and simple, is that no illegal votes will be cast as a consequence of ACORN’s voter-registration program. In fact, illegal votes constitute fewer than 1 out of a million votes cast, and no illegal vote has ever been tied to ACORN, in spite of the almost 2 million registrations we submitted in 2004 and 2006. The small percentage of problematic cards that we have submitted to local election boards in 2008 - and that we are required by law to submit, even cards that we can plainly see are invalid - will not result in any illegal voting, contrary to over-the-top partisan claims. The irony in these attacks is that our registration drive and get-out-the-vote program is nonpartisan.

Illinois Poverty: Addressing the Causes, Investing in Solutions

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Written by Amy Rynell, Director the Heartland Alliance Mid-America Institute on Poverty and authour of Causes of Poverty: Findings from Recent Research.

Poverty is widespread and will touch the majority of Americans at some point during their lifetimes. Particularly acute are the impacts on children. Living in poverty affects children’s development, health and school outcomes. As a result children who experience persistent poverty are more likely to be poor as adults.

The time has come to make poverty elimination a national and local priority. Seizing this moment to create change is vital to the millions of Americans and Illinoisans that live in poverty every day:

- We must act to address poverty because it limits chances and restricts opportunity for the people who experience it.

- We must act to address poverty because it is dangerous when children cannot get enough healthy food to eat, adults lack shelter, and seniors skip doses of vital medication.

- We must act to address poverty because it erodes the quality of life for us all. A society, a state, a community is only as strong its weakest member.

Poverty elimination requires specific, measurable plans and policies. States around the U.S. have begun setting poverty reduction goals and countries around the world are drafting and implementing formal poverty reduction strategies and plans. These focused goals and plans have had tremendous success: they have put poverty reduction in a place of priority on government agendas, increased engagement of impacted communities and populations in the political process, have increased the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of approaches, and have led to strategic investments into effective anti-poverty solutions.

Illinois, through the newly created Commission on the Elimination on Poverty, has an historic opportunity to invest in the next generation of anti-poverty policies and programs. Today we released a study entitled Causes of Poverty. This deeper look at causes of poverty provides a solid jumping off point for policy and systems planning. By understanding the specific triggers that increase the likelihood that someone will experience poverty, we can better target our interventions and investments.

There is a spectrum of solutions that should considered, including prevention, human capital development, immigrant integration, economic development, income supports, and asset development, that can directly impact the lives of millions of Illinoisans. With a comprehensive plan, resources, leadership, and follow through, we can put an end extreme poverty in Illinois and move miles down the path to eliminate poverty for all.

Written by archive

October 17th, 2008 at 11:22 am

Fourth Generation Poverty

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Written by Teri McKean, MSW, LSW with ABC Counseling and Family Services in Champaign, Illinois.

Teri is a wife and mother of two girls. She formerly worked in Carterville, IL as a case manager but after completing her MSW at the University of Illinois at Chicago in May 2008, Teri and her family moved to Champaign, IL where she is a sexual abuse counselor for children.

I walked into their trailer and am appalled. I didn’t expect expensive furnishings or beautiful artwork, but what I find is filth. No, not filth, just the result of years of hand-me-downs, throw-outs, leftovers and junk. This family is third generation poor. They rent this trailer for $100 a month. The couch was found at the end of someone’s driveway and their kitchen table is missing a leg. Old newspapers act as insulation in the windows. The mother excuses the trailer, stating “I just don’t know where to start anymore.” It’s only her and her daughter, but they have a staggering amount of stuff. Her daughter has told me that mother is too anxious to get rid of anything. “If we throw out something, we might need it in a month for cash.” Everything is viewed as a possible way to make a few extra bucks. Mother struggles to make ends meet with her disability check and food stamps. They don’t have enough to keep insurance on their car, much less gas to get the 2 miles to town and back, so they take back roads and hope the car stays together so they can get groceries. Mother and daughter often miss counseling, case management and doctor appointments because they just can’t get there.

When asked if there are family members to help, Mother remarks, “They are just as poor as we are, just in California, not Illinois.” She mentions the father of her daughter, but admits she is too proud to go to him. He sent a few letters over the years, but he was violent and abusive; she’d rather not let him back into their lives. He could afford to help, and by rights, should pay child support, but it’s just too much trouble.

The daughter is barely making it to school three times a week, and has recently indulged in pot for the first time. She’s 13. Already, she has decided her fate is to be poor, so she has given up. Why continue her education to work at the local fast food restaurant and maybe make enough to pay for her gas back and forth? She has remarked on numerous occasions, “I’ll just get a check and some food stamps too, as soon as I have a kid.”

Where did the system fail them? Why is the third and now fourth generation of this family so accepting of their poverty? I saw families like this all over southern Illinois from Cairo to Carterville to Chester. I saw them in Chicago and I see them now in Champaign. Poverty does not affect one area of the state, it is widespread and their stories, while unique, are so similar. The common theme is the disenfranchisement and the lack of involvement that people in poverty have with the system that should help them. Asking the mother above to suggest changes to the food stamp program would make her laugh. She would not believe anyone in government or public policy would care. We need to find a way to care and to prove to those people receiving services that we do. Nothing will get better until that occurs.

Teri McKean, MSW, LSW

Champaign, IL