When is enough enough?
People with developmental disabilities and their families deserve better than Illinois policymakers have the guts to deliver.
As the parent of a 24 year old man with Down syndrome and the President of the board of directors of The Arc of Illinois, I know first-hand that the life he deserves is not supported by the policies and fiscal realities that exist in our state. Families like mine cobble together a patchwork of jobs, volunteer work, living arrangements and civic engagement. We work tirelessly so that the people we care about can continue to have a meaningful life of belonging and contribution in the communities where they have grown and lived their entire lives, but we live in constant fear that illness or other change of circumstance will derail everything.
Community-based living is the right thing to do, and it requires fiscal fortitude and support. Doing the right thing while vastly underfunding the system is a recipe for disaster and failure. We can do better. We have to fill the void in caregiving staff and stem turnover. One avenue is to provide a living wage to direct support professionals who work on the front lines and provide the most intimate of care. Though our legislature passed a bill to increase that wage, it was vetoed by Governor Rauner in August, and earlier this week, the legislature was unable to override the veto.
Illinois must do better. We can no longer afford to shrug our shoulders and allow “politics as usual” to fail our sons and daughters with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
There is a storm brewing and too many vulnerable Illinoisans are without protection from the elements of partisan politics.
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423