This story from the State Journal Register is a result of our advocacy efforts in the Capitol working with the press and legislators on the closing of state institutions.  Our message clearly is that the Rebalancing Initiative can be successful and everyone can be supported in the community. 

Tony Paulauski

Hearing tonight on closure of Jacksonville Developmental Center

March 7, 2012

The director of an advocacy group for the disabled said the proposed closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center is an opportunity to improve the lives of the residents.

“The time for state institutions has passed. We need to be developing community services much stronger than we have been doing in Illinois. My own philosophy is that there is no longer a need for any state institution,” said Tony Paulauski, executive director of The Arc of Illinois.

Tonight, Paulauski plans to be at Illinois College in Jacksonville to attend a hearing on the proposed closing of JDC. The Legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability is hosting the meeting, which is expected to draw comments from people on both sides of the issue.

The meeting starts at 5 p.m.

A total of 185 people live at the JDC, which has been targeted for closure by Gov. Pat Quinn. The governor wants to move the residents from an institutional setting to a community-based setting where advocates like Paulauski believe the developmentally disabled will thrive.

Not everyone, including some of the family members who have loved-ones at JDC, agree with Paulauski. They don’t believe that a community setting is a better option.

Last month, when journalists were invited to tour the JDC, David Iacono-Harris said his son, whom he described as moderately mentally disabled and severely emotionally disturbed, is not a good candidate for community living.

“He can’t live in a community setting,” Iacono-Harris said last month. “He tried to do it twice. He has literally physically destroyed two group homes. He is not a candidate for the community.”

While not commenting on Iacono-Harris’ specifically, Paulauski said community living can help people with severe problems.

“What we’ve found is that people who have the label of having the most severe disabilities are the ones who benefit the most by moving into smaller community settings,” Paulauski said. “Mainly, because that means there is more attention and individual care given to them.”

Paulauski said his group would work with families directly to help them find the best option for their loved-ones. Some people might need around-the-clock care, but others might only need periodic checks.

“Some might need intermittent care where the staff comes in to help them with meal preparation, getting ready to go to bed at night and getting up in the morning to get to work. It’s all going to be driven by the plan that is put together with the person and the guardian,” Paulauski said.

 Want to go?

What: The Legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability meeting on the proposed closing of the Jacksonville Developmental Center.

Where: Bruner Recreation Center, Illinois College, corner of Edgehill Road and Lincoln Avenue

When: 5 p.m. 

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)