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Letters on Closing State Institutions




There are a number of Letters to the Editor in the Chicago Tribune today reacting to the Governor’s call to close Mabley and Jacksonville.Tony


Community care for the disabled

Congratulations on your great Sept. 30 editorial “Moving to community care; State-run centers for the developmentally disabled are finally on the way out.”

State institutions for people with developmental disabilities that have an annual cost per resident of $181,700 a year are expenditures that the state can no longer afford.

Small, more normalized community group homes can serve almost anyone presently residing in the institutions for an average of half the money Illinois is now spending on those outmoded facilities.

Let’s start with the Jacksonville and Mabley Centers, as you suggested, and then let’s finish the job over the next few years by downsizing and closing the other six relics of outdated warehousing of people with disabilities.

Don Moss, executive director, United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois, Springfield

State-run centers

I hope that state-run centers for the developmentally disabled are not on their way out.

There is no such thing as “one size fits all.”

Yes there should be less restrictive settings available for those who can live and flourish in those settings.

Not all can.

My daughter has lived at Shapiro Developmental Center for 26 years. Some of the staff have been there longer. She has thrived there. She needs a much more structured setting than a group home could give her and Shapiro gives her that. Members of the staff truly care about the residents they watch over and should be given salutes and not be called “entrenched union” workers.

Yes, care there might be more expensive than in a group home; but just as those who need that setting should have it, so should those who need the other setting have it as well.

Nancie Blatt, Highland Park

Community support

The Chicago Tribune underscores the point that closing institutions for people with disabilities should not be guided by politics or the budget.

The decision should be guided by the needs, the rights and the quality of life of people with disabilities.

For decades, the disability community has organized to compel Illinois to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead ruling, which give people with disabilities the right to receive supports in the most integrated setting. Yet, Illinois lags far behind the rest of the country, institutionalizing people with disabilities at a rate much higher than the rest of the country, even though institutions typically cost more money and many people currently institutionalized would rather receive supports in their own homes.

Disability advocates interpret Gov. Pat Quinn’s closure announcement as an opportunity to decrease Illinois’ reliance on institutions.

But in order for the transition to community care to be successful, Illinois must transfer resources from the institutions that will be closed into the community.

Gary Arnold, Access Living, Chicago

Plans for transition

The editorial on “Moving to community care” for people with developmental disabilities is right. People with disabilities can and should be supported in their communities. My adult son is on the autism spectrum and has been living in an apartment successfully for four years with community supports. He has gained independent living skills that many people would not have predicted.

The community system mentioned can better serve the nearly 200 residents of the two institutions to be closed. For a responsible transition, the governor and legislators must see that the money saved follows those individuals into the community for group homes and other supportive services. Planning for the transitions must be based on the needs of the individuals.

Research surveys of parents of formerly institutionalized individuals report that in the community, their loved ones changed for the better in a number of ways: being more communicative, independent, responsible and happier; showing positive behavioral changes; and gaining daily living skills.

Both chambers of the Illinois Legislature have adopted a resolution calling for a plan to enhance and expand access to quality community services and supports for people with developmental disabilities. Those community services are woefully underfunded in Illinois. Closing two institutions presents both an opportunity and a responsibility.

Our elected officials have the responsibility to provide appropriate funding for Illinois citizens with developmental disabilities.

Bonnie Dohogne, Evanston, member, Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities


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)