This is very active and productive week for The Arc.
On Monday I headed to Bloomington to meet with Helen Michelassi, Executive Director of
Prairieland Service Coordination to discuss Rebalancing, Managed Care and The Arc.
Tuesday found me back in Chicago for meetings with Tony Records, the Ligas Court Monitor
and another meeting of the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force. Tony Records will
be a featured speaker at our Leadership Conference. He shared with me issues he will be
looking at in this next year of the implementation of the Ligas Consent Decree for Class
Members which include:
Employment and flexible day options
Large community living options
The overall quality of services/supports for Class Members
Tony also shared with me that the Division of Developmental Disabilities intends to move
another 500 individuals off the waiting list in early spring.
Wednesday, I met with Shirley Perez, Executive Director of the Family Support Network and
Toni Howard, Ligas Family Advocate to discuss training and the rollout of the Ligas Family
Advocacy Program which I shared with you on Tuesday. This program is a long needed
resource for Ligas Class Members and their families who have moved off the waiting list.
Today I head to Joliet to meet with Frank DiBartolomeo, Executive Director at Service of Will,
Grundy & Kankakee Counties. After that I am meeting with Representative Manley and Phil to
discuss Rebalancing, Direct Support Staff Wages and Managed Care.
Friday, Phil and I are in Lemont to meet with Senate Republican Leader Chris Radogno to
update her on Rebalancing, Direct Support Staff Wages and Managed Care.
After the closing statements of the Murray Developmental Center trial a local Centralia official
released an editorial on Murray and the need for state institutions. What follows is an excellent
response by Secretary Saddler and Director Casey.
Opinion: IDHS responds to Rep Meier column on
by WILY/WRXX News Staff • January 15, 2014 • News • 0 Comments
To Whom it May Concern,
I am writing to clear up a number of blatant inaccuracies in a recent editorial regarding the
closure of the Murray Developmental Center.
For far too long, Illinois has relied on an archaic system of care for people with developmental
disabilities and underestimated their ability to communicate, interact and integrate into society.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is committed to rebalancing the system of
care for all individuals with developmental disabilities and transitioning them from outdated
institutions and into the community.
Numerous studies show that individuals living in the community have a better quality of life than
those living in large institutions. Smaller settings allow individuals to become more involved in
their community, attend church and decorate their own rooms as they wish. Individuals receive
the care they need – including 24-hour care – in community settings.
CRA, DOYLE, STARR
To help in this historic initiative, the state contracted with Community Resource Associates (CRA),
a well respected group of best practice leaders and experts. CRA is only paid for services they
provide. As testified to in last week’s hearing, they are working with individuals at various state-
operated developmental centers (SODC) to create community living plans, which can take several
months. In addition, they have a substantial team of professionals performing assessments in a
number of specialized fields – such as speech therapy and occupational therapy – to identify what an individual would need to succeed in the community. So, to simply take the number of Murray
residents and divide it by the total amount paid in order to arrive at an hourly wage is erroneous
math at best.
Over the last few years, the state of Illinois has faced unprecedented budget pressures, leading to
a backlog of unpaid bills.
Like many other state vendors, CRA has indeed experienced payment delays as a result of those
Both Mark Doyle and Derrick Dufresne have decades of experience in the DD field. The two worked
together from 1984-1986. Prior to the closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center, they had
not worked together since 1986 – that is a span of 25 years. It is not unusual to work with the same
individuals and organizations in such a specialized field.
Rick Starr is an experienced professional who has served in various positions at Murray for the past
12 years. He received an income raise based on several factors, including an increase in job duties
and a review of salaries of other state developmental center administrators. Starr is currently
performing the role of several, separate positions. Even with a slight adjustment, Mr. Starr remains
among the lowest paid facility directors and assistant directors in the state.
Late last year, IDHS asked Equip for Equality (EFE) to review conditions at several Community
Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) occupied by former residents of the Murray Developmental
Center. The report was originally to be used as an internal document; however, after taking the time
to redact personal and identifiable information, the report was ultimately released to key legislators in
our continuing effort to be as transparent as possible during the Murray closure process.
Overall, EFE found that the homes are well maintained. In addition, the report found that homes are
well-staffed, and that caregivers are aware of safety needs and procedures. There were no concerns
identified about hazardous conditions, hiring of felons or moving individuals to other homes due to
staff shortages (as alleged in the GAL affidavit). Rather, the report notes that “[w]hen all the available information is reviewed, considered, the allegations are easily refuted.” This report demonstrates that
the individuals are thriving in the community.
Jackie Jacques is not the current owner of SSS. She retired and turned the reigns over to her
husband nearly 15 years ago.
As a CRA employee, Jacques is not involved in provider recommendations or placements whatsoever.
Ms. Jacques has never made any recommendation as to any community placement for a Murray
resident, as that is not part of her job duties.
Rep. Meier got one thing right. Additional CILA development in Centralia is not likely at this time. While
we are sure not everyone in Centralia feels this way, there have been disturbing incidents of
harassment of Murray residents who have moved into CILAs in Centralia. This also has served as a
deterrent to community providers seeking to develop housing in the area. We hope that with time these
hostile attitudes will change so that Murray residents and their guardians who choose community
placements in Centralia will have more options to do so, and feel more welcomed. Community placement
in the least restrictive setting is a federal right that all developmentally disabled persons have.
IDHS requires contracted providers to do background checks on potential employees, including criminal background checks, IL Sex Offender Registry, DCFS abuse/neglect registry, IDPH health care worker
registry, and national Medicaid fraud sanctions list. We also require these employees to have 80 hours
of on the job training and 40 hours of classroom instruction.
Since the first day we announced the closure of Murray Developmental Center, we have said that parents, guardians and residents have the ultimate choice on where to live. If they so choose, we will assist them in finding appropriate alternatives to the community, such as other SODCs or private ICF/DDs. All written communication proves this fact beyond a reasonable doubt. Even though it extends beyond our
obligations under federal law, the Department is on record, in writing, again and again, that SODCs are
an available option to those who want them.
Michelle R.B. Saddler
Director, Division of Developmental Disabilities, IDHS
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423