Even though I was in Washington D.C. last week for our annual national convention, we were still turning out letters to the editor and doing radio interviews on the Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative. Here is my letter to the editor in Springfield’s State Journal Register.Yesterday was my lucky day because I caught one of the last flights out of Washington before the airport closed! Nice to be home.
Letter: JDC study was flawed
The study cited in the Oct. 18 State Journal-Register article, “Health board staff: JDC closure would hurt mental health services,” is clearly flawed. It sources an analysis by the state health facilities oversight board that does not fully take into account Gov. Pat Quinn’s commitment to invest in community living options.
This analysis is another attempt to keep institutions open and save union jobs at the expense of people with disabilities. Transitioning into a community setting offers people with disabilities the choice and freedom to live their dreams by offering them an individualized person centered approach. Closing institutions makes sense from a fiscal standpoint too because it maximizes taxpayer dollars by redirecting money from the costly and antiquated institutional system to customized community supports and services.
A May 2012 Human Services Research Institute report suggests that Illinois reduce its reliance on large institutional facilities and increase access to quality supports in the community. The report also revealed that the number of people with disabilities waiting for services has doubled since 2008. This is a disgrace. It’s no wonder that Illinois lags behind almost every other state in providing equal community supports and services to people with disabilities.
It’s time to focus our efforts on making this transition happen instead of wasting time and energy fighting a system that is clearly broken. Let’s remain focused on what’s important. This is about offering people with disabilities the same opportunities and freedoms we enjoy.
The Arc of Illinois
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423