Things will be quiet because I will be at our national convention this week. I will return to Chicago on Sunday, Oct 28th but will then head to Springfield for the Speak Up and Speak Out Summit.Here is my letter to the State Journal Register on their story about the closing of the Jacksonville Developmental Center and mental health services.
The study cited in the October 18th SJR article, “Health board staff: JCD 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 Governor Quinn’s commitment to invest in community living. 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. It’s a no-brainer.
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.
Thanks to Governor Quinn’s heroic efforts to invest in people with disabilities we are making strides but there remains a long road ahead. 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.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423