Arc and Advocates Call For Closing State Institutions
The Going Home Coalition held a press conference in the Capitol today at 10:00. We are
calling upon the state to close 6 or the 7 state institutions here in Illinois.
Here is a summary of the press conference and talking points
We started the press conference with Katherine Hamann talking about her sister Margaret
who had been in state institutions for 62 years and is now living in the community. Bob
Peterson also talked about his life in a state institutions and is now living in the community.
The following are notes from advocates covering national trends, costs of institutions and a
call to action to close 6 of the 7 state institutions by 2020.
Hello, I’m Tony Paulauski, Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois.
• 25-year anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act and we are still condemning
people with disabilities to institutions–despite the fact that research proves living in the
community offers an improved quality of life.
• We are still warehousing citizens with disabilities even though the national trend
clearly shows that the overwhelming number of states are closing institutions and investing
in programs that offer people with disabilities the chance to live with freedom, equality and
opportunity in a community of choice.
• I would like to applaud Governor Rauner for his pledge to continue to move people
with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of state institutions and into the community.
• Even with that, we have a lot of catching up to do. Because the fact remains, Illinois is
still far behind the national trend. In fact, according to the most recent study of state
institutions, between 2011-2013
o Illinois has the 3rd highest population of people with intellectual and developmental
o 14-states including District of Columbia have closed ALL state operated institutions.
o This year, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio each plan to close two state institutions
and Virginia plans to downsize from five to two state institutions by 2018.
o 70% of states have less than 500-people living in institutions. In contrast, Illinois has
more than 1,700.
o 96% of states reduced its institutionalized population- and the two that didn’t have less
than 200 people living in institutions.
• All of this while 22,000 people with disabilities remain on the state waiting list to receive
critical services. You see, Illinois can’t afford to help them because we are wasting $429 million
a year on maintaining 7 state institutions.
• An antiquated system that all of the data and research proves is not sustainable and
continues to unjustly segregate people like Bob and Katherine’s sister Margaret. It’s time to
step up Illinois. We can no longer afford to run a dual-system. And, we will no longer stand for
the inequality and backward thinking that keeps our friends and neighbors institutionalized.
Hi, I’m Cheryl Jansen with Equip for Equality.
• Now that you can see the national trend clearly shows the majority of states are
redirecting funds from state institutions to community supports and services- let me explain
how Illinois can save $337 million and improve accessibility and services for people with
• We know community integration is the right thing to do. And, once you look at the
economics you will realize it’s something we MUST do.
• Illinois can no longer afford to operate a dual-system.
• We can support four-and-a-half people living in the community for every one person in
a state institution.
• As Tony previously mentioned, Illinois institutionalizes more people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities than just about any other state in the nation.
• Taxpayers spend $429 million a year to operate 7 state institutions, which house 1,730
• We can support those same people, even those with the most severe disabilities, in a
neighborhood closer to family and friends for an estimated of $92 million a year.
• So, keep 1,730 people institutionalized with taxpayers on the hook for $429 million a year?
Or, offer an improved quality of life and maximize taxpayer dollars and support nearly 5-times
more people living with choice and equality in the community?
• Illinois is facing a major budget crisis- this is a unique opportunity to save the state
significant money- $337 million a year- and at the same time provide people with disabilities the
chance – the opportunity- to experience life in the community just like you and I.
• There are 300-people upstairs in orange t-shirts that came here from across Illinois to
rally in support of community integration. Many of them used to live in institutions. All of them-
examples of what we can accomplish by working together, by treating everyone as equals,
and by removing the glass ceiling and opening the door to opportunity.
Hello, I’m Gary Arnold with Access Living.
• The choice is clear and the journey begins now.
• The research and data prove that Illinois can no longer afford to operate a dual-system.
• We are calling on the state to close 6 of the 7 state-operated institutions by 2020.
• There are not-for-profit providers ready and able to invest in housing opportunities and
the necessary supports and services to help people with disabilities live successful lives in the
community closer to family and friends.
• There is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of the people we
are here advocating for today. That’s why we would like to work with the new administration and
lawmakers to develop a thoughtful and inclusive plan to prepare our friends for success as they
begin this life-changing path into the community. Some will need 24-hour support while others
will need minimal intervention. Regardless, each person will receive individualized supports and
services to help reach their maximum potential.
• We don’t need to reinvent the wheel- we will learn from Illinois and other states’
accomplishments and failures to build a system designed for success. In fact, the Illinois Council
on Developmental Disabilities has already invested countless time and resources to develop the
“Illinois at Tipping Point- Blueprint for Redesign in Illinois”. The Blueprint focuses on bringing
Illinois in line with the national trend and reducing our state’s reliance on institutions and
improving access to community living opportunities.
• We look forward to working with all of you to help the 1,730 people in institutions have the
opportunity to choose what they want to have for dinner, what plans they want to make on the
weekend, or if they just want to be left alone listening to their favorite album in their bedroom.
All things we take for granted. All possible in this great state of Illinois.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423