This letter to the editor was in the Illinois Times.
Supporters of institutional living are using scare tactics in a desperate attempt to sway public opinion against Gov. Quinn’s brilliant plan to close state institutions. They are talking about people losing their jobs, residents being turned away with nowhere to go and families being separated. Don’t be fooled.
My interest is for the residents of the Jacksonville Developmental Center. The Arc of Illinois is standing by these families to make sure they have a meaningful and successful transition into community living. No one will be “evicted.” In fact, we have been working with the Illinois Department of Human Services on a comprehensive transition plan that will ensure a person-centered planning approach. Each person will receive an evaluation and ultimately be moved into a community setting that is personalized to empower people with disabilities to live an independent, safe and happy life, whether it’s living alone or with a small group, 24-hour care or a more independent lifestyle. They enjoy going to church, going out for ice cream and spending time with family and friends. Each plan is customized according to their individual needs.
While the history of Jacksonville Developmental Center is fascinating, that is not a good reason to keep people with disabilities warehoused and existing within an antiquated system. The days of segregating people with disabilities are long gone and to suggest that they should remain institutionalized and not be given the opportunity to thrive in a community setting is insulting. We work with countless families, some whose loved ones have been labeled with the most severe disabilities, who have moved from an institution to a community home and flourished. People with disabilities want and deserve the same opportunities we all do. It’s time to stop selling them short and disregarding their potential. It’s time to get real about the amazing opportunities and dreams that are attainable by living in a community.
Tony Paulauski, executive director
The Arc of Illinois
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423