What a great day it was for The Arc and disability advocates across Illinois. Governor Quinn was honored for his leadership on disability issues and his rebalancing initiative. As I said to the Governor, I have been waiting for this my entire career!What a day! Later today we will post the Governor’s acceptance speech and Director Casey’s speech on Wednesday.


Quinn facility closure plan hailed by activists

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn accepting “The Arc of Illinois 2012 President’s Award” on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at the Arc of Illinois luncheon in the Hilton Hotel in Lisle IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media


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Updated: April 27, 2012 2:51Am

Advocates for people with disabilities distinguished Gov. Pat Quinn with a special commendation this week.

Convening for their 62nd annual convention at the Lisle Hilton on Warrenville Road, members of the Arc of Illinois presented the governor with their President’s Award at a luncheon meeting Thursday. Agency officials said Quinn’s support for moving people out of institutions and into their own communities qualified him for the award, which is not given out every year.

Board president Brian Rubin said the recognition goes out only when individuals demonstrate through their commitment and character that they support the Arc’s mission: “empowering persons with disabilities to achieve full participation in community life through informed choices.”

“That defines Governor Quinn’s life,” Rubin told some 350 conference participants gathered for the event.

Quinn’s Rebalancing Initiative, implemented last November, aims to pare spending by closing state-run institutions that serve people with mental illness and developmental and intellectual disabilities, moving their residents into community settings equipped to meet their needs.

While the planned closure of the Tinley Park Mental Health Center has met ardent opposition, the shuttering of four of the state’s eight developmental centers is embraced by Arc.

“In state after state, the institutional model of treatment has been judged ineffective, inefficient and inferior to housing developmentally disabled people in small, residential settings,” Arc executive director Tony Paulauski wrote in an editorial posted on the organization’s website. “Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have closed all their state institutions for the developmentally disabled. Illinois, meanwhile, has the third highest population of institutionalized individuals of any state. Even after closing JDC, it will retain that rank.”

Quinn acknowledged that the state lags behind most, and said the effort is likely to encounter opposition.

“There are folks out there, unfortunately, who aren’t on our side and are going to try to put up roadblocks,” he said. “Let’s face it: we’re behind other states. We’re going to catch up and get ahead of them.”

The three-year implementation plan for the initiative includes transferring 20 residents monthly from institutions to community-based (sometimes called person-centered) care. In some cases the 24-hour care is provided in their families’ homes.

The $7,000 monthly cost for serving a resident will be picked up by community-based providers in the 2013 and 2014 budgets, under the governor’s plan.

Paulauski emphasized to convention goers that the initiative focuses on more than just dollars and cents.

“Rebalancing is about civil rights,” he said. “It’s about moving out of an outmoded and antiquated setting to be in the community, close to family.”

The admiration at Thursday’s luncheon went both ways. Quinn commended the audience for the shared commitment to improving the quality of life for people who can’t often advocate for themselves.

“Service to others is the rent we pay for our place on God’s earth, and I’m here to say as the governor of Illinois that everybody in this room is more than paying their rent in service,” Quinn said.

For Paulauski, there is encouragement in having a long-standing challenge being addressed.

“Mr. Governor, I’ve been waiting my full career for someone to take the leadership and rebalance the system,” he said.  

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)