The IEJF funds civil legal aid programs across the state, ensuring that all residents, regardless of income, have equal access to the justice system. Funded by a state appropriation, the IEJF has awarded $24.3 million in grants to nonprofit civil legal aid providers serving the critical legal needs of over 560,000 vulnerable families, seniors and veterans since 2001.
State funding for the IEJF’s civil legal aid appropriation was negatively impacted by the state budget impasse. Funding for the IEJF was not included in the 18-month stop gap budget for FY 16/FY 17 signed into law on June 30. Two years without a state appropriation for civil legal aid hurts our most vulnerable neighbors the most and chips away at the basic tenets of democracy. We will be back in touch with specifics, but we will be asking all of our stakeholders to lend their voices to the advocacy campaign to reinstate funding for this critical appropriation.
Some justice was served, though, when funding was released in the stop gap budget for the IEJF’s Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network project. The project, enacted by the IL Access to Justice Act in 2015 and funded by filing fee income, will provide grants to nonprofit organizations to develop and implement a legal aid hotline and supporting legal aid services for veterans, active duty military and their families. It is anticipated that grants will be awarded in early 2017. Stay tuned for grant guidelines, applications and deadline information.