When thinking about CSBG, it is impossible not to think about the Community. After all, it is the COMMUNITY Services Block Grant. In Illinois, we value our communities and the partnerships that we have developed at the COMMUNITY level. The State office is committed to supporting these partnerships through a variety of innovative programs designed to bring together a vast assortment of partners to assist in addressing the needs identified in our communities through the Community Needs Assessment process. These partnerships and programs take on many shapes, sizes, and faces, forcing us to constantly reimagine what possible is.
One such partnership began in 2019, when the Illinois State CSBG and Weatherization offices began working together on a Healthy Homes program. The two-state offices collaborated with partners from the University of Illinois, Carle Hospital, and our local Community Action Agency (CAA), Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC).
Based on community needs, the healthy homes program focuses on expectant mothers or families with young children experiencing indoor air quality-related health issues and utilizing the emergency room for primary care. Common indoor air quality-related health issues include respiratory diseases, like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), asthma, heart disease, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. The young, elderly, and immunocompromised are particularly at risk for health issues and complications related to poor indoor air quality. The Healthy Homes program collaborators knew this going in and the importance of mitigating indoor air pollutants to ensure safe and healthy households for families.
The Illinois Healthy Homes program was built around improving indoor air quality to decrease major health-related episodes and the use of the emergency room as primary care. The process for doing this was simple; The Illinois Weatherization office worked with the University of Illinois to train university staff as Healthy Homes Inspectors, Carle Hospital identified incoming patients as good candidates for the program, newly trained inspectors set out to evaluate homes for pollutants and other issues impacting occupants, U of I provided CCRPC with a work order of identified mitigations for the agency to address.
As the work continues, the program is adapting (for example, CCRPC is taking on more of the inspecting) but staying true to its core mission. Looking at the results, we expect to see fewer families utilizing emergency rooms as primary care treatments, an increase in household income due to a decrease in sick days, and an increase in the educational experience for our youth through fewer missed days of school.