Letter to the Editor
This letter is in response to the Chicago Tribune investigation “Suffering in secret,” which describes the problems and weaknesses of the Illinois intellectual/developmental disabilities community service system.

In doing so, Tribune reporters have included stories of persons who passed away while receiving services from community-based organizations including Trinity Services.

Our mission is to assist individuals to live their best life possible. Every day, we see the positive impact we make on the lives of the people we serve. We are truly saddened by the death of anyone who passes away in our care.

Trinity Services has been supporting children and adults with disabilities for more than 66 years from a foundation of compassion, competence and community. We believe we are doing a good job, and in fact, the state of Illinois relies on Trinity and several other providers to serve people with very complex medical or behavioral needs. Throughout the years, we have served thousands of people and have saved the lives of many.

While it is a reality that bad things happen in good organizations, there are changes that could strengthen the current disability system in Illinois.

For at least eight years, Trinity’s staff has suggested and proposed that there be specialized group homes within the community-integrated living arrangement model that would more properly accommodate and support people with exceptional needs. Those people associated with Trinity who are included in these articles, along with many of the other individuals named, would have benefited from such settings.

It is very difficult to provide services in Illinois. The system today stands on the precipice of collapse. Providers have not had a rate increase in more than eight years and organizations cannot recruit sufficient numbers of staff because of low wages. Moreover, direct-support staff members are becoming discouraged and exhausted because of the overtime demands on their lives.

It is our hope that this series will be the catalyst for the changes that need to be made in Illinois.

Thanks to those of you who have expressed such kind words of encouragement.

— Art Dykstra, executive director, Trinity Services

Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune

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Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
708-828-0188 (CELL)