The Arc was proud to be in attendance with Representative Will Davis, Rep.
Al Riley, and Representative Kelly Burke, Senator Bill Cunningham and Senator
Michael Hastings and over 300 advocates at the Southland rally today!
For two hours this morning, more than 300 people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities and mental illness and their families and the disability
professionals and representatives of provider agencies who support them, as
well as a supportive group of state legislators, came together at the Oak Forest
Village Hall to express their frustration about the lack of a state budget and to
describe the real human impact of no budget on people with disabilities and their
families. What they want Governor Rauner and the legislature to know is how
critical the services are that are threatened by the lack of a reasonable budget.
Family member after family member described the unique services their loved
ones’ therapists provide and how their creativity and professionalism can invent
solutions that make it feasible for their family member to have a life of possibility.
Respite care and early intervention were particularly highlighted, but there also
was testimony about the importance of services for the mentally ill and their
families. Arc representative Kimberly Johnson-Evans spoke about the hardship
that families face , navigating the system, especially since the elimination of the
Arc LifeSpan Program, FTP and Family Support Network, since their funding was
eliminated June 30th!
In addition, therapists and professionals who work with the disabled and who run
provider agencies that serve people with intellectual disabilities talked about their
work and how much it means to them personally, as well as to the families they
serve. What they want the state’s legislators to understand is that this situation
not only threatens services for people with disabilities and their families, it
threatens the families of professionals who are not being paid for the services
they provide. Providers and professionals have bills and responsibilities and
families too. If providers close their doors, which many are perilously close to doing,
people with disabilities and their families and also the families of those who work
with them are losing out. What the gathering today expressed, however, is
something even bigger. Illinois is going to lose out. A number of speakers
mentioned the much smaller cost of early intervention versus the much larger cost
of treating problems years down the road. Several speakers talked about a time
when there weren’t these needed services and the human suffering that resulted.
Everyone – families, professionals, and those legislators present – agreed that
there is hope if the disability community stands strong and continues to make this
Kimberly Evans of The Arc of Illinois/Ligas Family Advocate Program,
proudly displaying a poster of our programs, some lost due to the
budget cuts. She also took stage at the rally to voice her concerns
regarding the affects of the budget.
A great turnout! Over 300 individuals affected by Illinois’ lack of
budget gathered to share their concerns.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423