Leaders in The Arc:  

Once again we are faced with the closing of state institutions. This time the Governor has decided to close Mabley in Dixon and the Jacksonville Developmental Center. Lincoln was closed in 2002. Last year, Howe was closed.

The number of people living in Illinois state institutions continues to decline. In 1998, 3,405 lived in state institutions. Today, that number is about 1,975 individuals.

Monday, I met with the Governor’s team to discuss these closings. Jack Lavin, Chief of Staff for the Governor stated, “It is Governor Quinn’s policy to rebalance the system into the community.”

Michael Gelder, Senior Advisory on Health Policy for the Governor called the Governor’s decision, “A game changing moment and we are serious about moving ahead to support the community.”

I understand that this is not a perfect plan but what is? Most of my career has been advocating for the closing of state institutions and investing in community. The Governor’s decision now presents us with the opportunity to make this a reality. I am putting our best efforts behind the Governor’s decision and I need your support as well.

The Arc is advocating for a smooth and safe transition for the individuals at Mabley and Jacksonville. The state must increase capacity and resources to move and support those individuals in the community. You have done this before and you do it very well.

The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board called me on Monday and asked The Arc’s position on the closings of Mabley and Jacksonville. I met with the editors the following morning asking for their support of the closing.

I will be meeting with other editorial boards once again. Last May, in our LIFE Campaign, we generated no less than six major editorials supporting investing in the community and moving away from institutional services. See a summary of those editorials below.

Other helpful facts.

We know that people live healthier more productive lives after they transition out of institutions. This is especially true of those persons who moved and carried the label of being “severe.” We also know parental support is very high for the community after the move to the community according to a summary the closing of 27 other state institutions by C. Lakin, Ph.D., University of Minnesota.

In the new “State of the States in Developmental Disabilities 2011,” the average daily spending per person in Illinois state institutions is $498 or $181,770 per year for 2009! The average CILA cost is $52,454 according to the Division of Developmental Disabilities, March/2011.


The Commission on Government Forecasting & Accountability (COGFA) will hold statewide hearings on the closings in the next two months. That commission will make recommendations to legislators after those hearings. This is an important commission.

The two co-chairpersons of COGFA are Senator Jeffrey Schoenberg and Rep Patti Bellock.

I met with Rep Bellock Monday to brief her on my meeting with the Governor’s Staff and The Arc’s position on the closings.

Pictured here is Rep Patti Bellock, Tony and Shirley Perez, Executive Director of the Family Support Network.

Here are the members of COGFA and their email addresses. If any of these legislators are your legislators, you need to meet with them.

Jeffrey Schoenberg  jschoenberg@senatedem.ilga.gov
Michael Frerichs frerichs@senatedem.iliinois.gov
Matt Murphy senatormattmurphy@gmail.com
Suzi Schmidt suzi@suzischmidt.com
Dave Syverson Sen1@aol.com
Donne Trotter senatortrotter@yahoo.com
Patricia Bellock rep@pbellock.com
Kevin McCarthy kevmac37@sbcglobal.net  
Elaine Nekritz enekritz@repnekritz.org    
Raymond Poe poer@housegopmail.state.il.us 
Al Riley rep.riley38@sbcglobal.net  
Michael Tryon Mike@miketryon.com

Statewide Actions

Director Romano is convening a meeting of state associations and other advocates to coordinate efforts to close Mabley and Jacksonville. I will be at that meeting.

Here is what you can do for now:

1.    Share with me, any self-advocates or family members who would be willing to talk with me about their successful transition from a state institution to community living.
2.    If your Senator or Representative is a member of COGFA, please connect with them and share your support of the need to rebalance the system. Let me know what they say.
3.    If you see a story on the closing of Mabley or Jacksonville, respond with a letter to the editor.
4.    Connect with your Representative and Senator and voice your support of rebalancing the system. Let me know what they say.
5.    Send me any press you see on the closing of Mabley or Jacksonville.

I need your support. More importantly, the people at Mabley and Jacksonville need your support.

Here is what national experts reporting on Illinois have said in recent years.


All of the following expert reports have called for the rebalancing of the Developmental Disability System in Illinois and the closing of state institutions.

v  A Quest for Equality: Breaking The Barriers For People With Disabilities, A Call to Action For Illinois Leaders, The Chicago Community Trust, 2011

v  The Blueprint for System Redesign in Illinois, Human Services Research Institute, 2008

v  State Funding of Community Agencies for Services Provided to Illinois Residents with Mental Illnesses and/or Developmental Disabilities: Final Report to the Illinois General Assembly, Elizabeth T. Powers, Ph.D., University of Illinois, 2006.

v  Financing Services to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities in the State of Illinois, Robert Gettings, National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services, 2003.


v  House Joint Resolution 28 – 2009
v  Senate & House Joint Resolution 15 – 2011

Here is what editorial boards across the state are saying about community-based services!

Arc Editorial Support for Community Services

The time to reform and rebalance the Developmental Disability System in Illinois is NOW. These editorial boards get it!

Chicago Tribune, May 23, 2011
“Disability advocates say the state could save roughly $170 million by closing four of its eight institutions. This needs to happen in a way that’s least disruptive for the people at these institutions. But it needs to happen.”

State Journal-Register, May 22, 2011:
“For years, advocates for the developmentally disabled have tried, with very limited success, to persuade the state to move away from reliance on institutions and toward greater use of residential group homes and community programs for those with developmental disabilities.”

“Illinois must move out of the dark ages in treating its most vulnerable citizens.”

Pantagraph.com, May 22, 2011
“… the trend in recent years has been moving toward community-based settings – and Illinois lags far behind other states that have scaled back or eliminated state-run institutions for those with developmental disabilities.”

“It is a matter worthy of consideration – for financial as well as humanitarian reasons.”

Rockford Register Star, April 27, 2011
“Illinois has its priorities exactly backward.”

“Is it any wonder why Illinois is ranked 51st in the nation for supporting citizens in their communities?

Chicago Sun-Times, June 15, 2011
“For a state looking to cuts costs wherever it can, moving away from expensive institutional care is imperative.”

“States that have seen the light have moved away from warehousing people with disabilities in large, residential facilities in favor of placing them in smaller, community-based settings.”