Sunday, the State Journal Register ran an important editorial supporting the movement away from state instituions here in Illinois. “Jacksonville Developmental Center has for years stood as a relic of an antiquated approach to caring for the developmentally disabled.
The state’s announcement on Thursday that JDC will close later this year — after its residents have been evaluated and moved into appropriate community care settings — is an important, much-belated milestone. It’s the first step toward moving Illinois away from its excessive reliance on large institutions to house and treat its developmentally disabled citizens.
In state after state, the institutional model of treatment has been judged ineffective, inefficient and inferior to housing developmentally disabled people in small, residential settings. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have closed all their state institutions for the developmentally disabled. Illinois, meanwhile, has the third highest population of institutionalized individuals of any state. Even after closing JDC, it will retain that rank. “” Re Re…..
Illinois warehouses more people with disabilities in state-run institutions than almost any other state, ranking 48th in the nation. This rebalancing initiative begins to correct that inequity by shifting from large state institutions to smaller community-based settings, which means a better quality of life and independence for the people we serve.
This is about providing persons with disabilities the same opportunities we all enjoy. Our priority is to work together to make the transition from Jacksonville into community living safe, comfortable and sustainable. The residents will be engaged in person-centered planning that is fully based upon their individual needs. In this planning process there is every reason to believe that the person can be relocated close to family and friends if that is their choice. They will choose the day services they want to participate in. They will experience the freedom of making real choices about their lives like never before.
There will be an advisory committee involved in the closing of the Jacksonville Developmental Center. Guardians, the individuals from JDC and other advocates should be represented on that committee. This has been the case in other closures.
This is a big step for Illinois and we must do all we can to ensure a safe transition to community living for the people at Jacksonville. We have an excellent opportunity to do the right thing for people with developmental disabilities and to be smart with precious taxpayer dollars.
The governor’s initiative is the right thing to do and the time is now.
— Tony Paulauski, executive director, The Arc of Illinois, Frankfort
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423