Kevin Casey, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities, was another featured speaker at our Leadership Conference. His talk was “Moving Forward in Illinois.”

Tony, Nancy Thaler, Kevin and Brian at the Leadership Conference

Kevin is a strong advocate who has worked as the Director of Pennsylvania’s Protection & Advocacy Agency and Pennsylvania’s Director of Developmental Disabilities. In the beginning of his career, he was also the Executive Director of the Marc Center in Bloomington, Illinois!
Here are some of my notes on Director Casey’s presentation. Just remember that you are reading my notes, and they are certainly subject to what I thought I had heard!
The Director began by talking about the Governor. He stated that Governor Quinn believes in the Rebalancing Initiative and that it is the right thing to do for people with disabilities. Governor Quinn’s role has been much more active in this initiative with his staff, the press and legislators than the Director has witnessed in his past work with other Governors.
The Jacksonville Developmental Center will close in favor of higher quality community supports chosen by the individual and/or guardians. This will be a different closing than we have seen here in Illinois in the past. New services/supports will be individually directed and family based.
The Director strongly believes that the state should fund and support the self-advocacy and family advocacy movement. It is critical to his role as the Director. He needs active advocates pushing him and the system.
He said, we need a more aggressive service coordination and quality management system than we now have in Illinois. We need to empower the service coordinators to advocate for the individuals in the system and monitor their services. The service coordinator and the individuals and/or guardians need to be  taking the lead for the Individual Program Plans and the integration of their services/supports. Aggressive service coordination is an important part of the system.
In Illinois, we truly need an integrated disability system and we are a long way from that objective. We need to rebalance away from state & community institutions, large group homes and segregated day services. As we develop new residential options, we need the full range of residential options beyond only group homes such as supported living, etc. There must be more emphasis on employment outcomes. The change we want will not be as rapid as we want it to be. As the Director, he will push very hard that people in State Operated Developmental Centers, people in ICFDD’s and group homes will be integrated into life in the community.
The Division’s rate setting structure is a mess. How we determine and process add on’s is also a mess. This needs to change.
Success can only be achieved with State Government and Community Advocates working together.
We will need The Arc and other advocacy organizations to push for this transition to community integration.
Director Casey has a full agenda with the Rebalancing Initiative and Ligas. He knows we have problems here in Illinois and he is open and frank about the road ahead. He is also a person driven by advocacy, and I believe he will lead us to making the reforms in the community system that we have been talking about for years.
I think the next two and one half years are going to be very interesting here in Illinois thanks to Director Casey! 

Here is a link to a video with Director Casey on Changing People’s Lives: 

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)