State Legislature Starts Back This Week!
This week, the state legislators return to Springfield for a marathon six weeks of budget and other legislative negotiation.  Priority for them will be revenue bills (cannabis, progressive income tax, sports gambling) and the budget.

Today, this morning the Arc’s customized employment bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Human Services Committee.

Please submit a witness slip as soon as you can in support for House Bill 3299, also called “The Sex Ed Bill”.  It made it out of the House of Representatives in March and is being heard in the Senate THIS AFTERNOON!   Quick link to witness slip here. Quick link to an email alert to contact your Illinois State Senator here.

Please also raise your voice in support of the Fair Tax.  The Arc continues to support a fair and balanced approach to the state budget, which includes needing further investments in home and community based services. Without additional revenue, we know that people with disabilities will struggle to find staff and advocates will struggle to truly transform the service system to provide supports that reflect the services people want and need.  Here is a take action form that you can give to your legislators- here.

Also – Call Your Legislators to support in the budget funding for people with disabilities including increase wages for direct support workers, improvements to Medicaid Re-determination, expanded employment services and funding for DD grants!

Invest in Transportation
We all know that transportation is the key or the main barrier to people being employed, enjoying life in the community and becoming involved.  There is a new campaign called Get On Board Illinois.  The purpose of this campaign is to press for the passage of a bill with capital funding in Illinois. A capital budget bill is about funds for things that have to be built or renovated. Illinois has not had a state capital funding bill in over a decade. That’s right. And the lack of investment shows in our poor state infrastructure.

We need your help to make sure that our state legislators know that transportation is incredibly important for people with disabilities. You can use this link provided by Get On Board IL to contact your legislators by email or Twitter.  You can edit the suggested text to let them know that transportation funding is REALLY important for riders with disabilities.

About Get On Board Illinois, from the RTA:

Each day, many residents of Illinois depend on safe, reliable trains and buses to get where they need to go.  In the RTA region alone, in Northeastern Illinois, CTA, Metra and Pace provide more than two million rides each weekday, saving riders time and money, reducing automobile traffic, and fueling our regional and state economy.

It has been more than a decade since the State of Illinois last funded a capital bill. The RTA transit system now has $30 billion of unmet high-priority projects, and Illinois’ Downstate transit agencies have more than $1.5 billion in reinvestment needs. The RTA’s Regional Transit Strategic Plan, Invest in Transit, sets clear priorities for public transportation across Chicago and northeastern Illinois, calling for $2 to $3 billion a year of investments over the next decade. Inadequate funding has resulted in aging transit infrastructure meaning service is slower, more crowded, and prone to breakdowns, all of which affect riders and the economy alike.

Time to Advocate!  Join the Going Home Coalition May 16 to Advocate for Increased Funding for Community Living.

It isn’t too late to register!  We need your voice in Springfield for funding, for support for wages for DSPs, for customized employment and for improving access to Medicaid re-determinations as well as the Sex Ed bill above.

Don’t miss Wings for All Event June 1!

TEC Conference – Open to All!
TEC (Technology Enhancing Capabilities) Lab is hosting its annual conference focused on enabling technologies for people with disabilities.  This year the event will be held on June 5 at NIU in Naperville.  if you would like to learn more, click here.  Don’t miss it – it is open to individuals with disabilities, families and community organizations.

Center for Future Planning Publishes Brief on Challenges Facing Individuals With I/DD and Mental Illness
Up to 40% of individuals with I/DD experience co-occurring mental illness, with some estimates pointing to even higher prevalence rates. Despite its large presence in the community, little is known about how to support families, caregivers, and direct service providers in meeting the needs of individuals experiencing mental illness and I/DD.

To further explore challenges and support needed, The Arc’s Center for Future Planning convened five focus groups in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Oregon. The Center also worked with Boston University to put together a national panel of young adults with co-occurring issues and professionals in the field to explore challenges in health care service access that young adults with co-occurring issues face. Several important findings and recommendations came out of these discussions.

The Center plans to convene further focus groups this year in order to develop training recommendations for education, disability, and mental health professionals. Contact Jennifer Sladen at for more information