Lights Shining in the Darkness

Here’s an article about human services in Illinois.  Streator Unlimited would fall under the “smaller agencies” description.  We had the good fortune to get on expedited payments the two times we were in danger of not having enough cash or credit to pay bills or consumers/employees.  The state just caught up our bills through the end of June, which is a huge help and an indicator of just how far behind they are.

The article is a good thing because it shows awareness of what’s been going on across the state.  Believe it or not, SU has done relatively well throughout this recession and Illinois financial crisis.  We haven’t laid off any staff and haven’t cut anyone’s services.  That doesn’t mean we have 13% less suffering than the agencies who on average have laid off that percentage of employees.  We’ve just spread the suffering out among all our people more–reduced work hours, increased workload, not filling open positions, increased insurance contribution, having to put consumers on the waiting list instead of bringing them in for the services they need, reducing the level of services for some consumers, cutting recreational outings for others (which is an especially big deal for our residents, who are with us 24/7 between home and day program).  It really is incredible how everyone has pulled together to get by as best we can.

Donations since our grant cuts went over $11,000 yesterday, with more on the way.  That does not include people and groups in the community who have put on parties for our consumers, who have bought both thoughtful and practical gifts for them, who have watched for job opportunities for our workshop, who  have in all sorts of quiet ways, and people who are letting us know they have plans for ways to keep helping us in the coming year.  The Streator community has been incredible in their support.  I was about to compare the great way the community is coming through the way consumers and employees have come through, but of course they are pretty much the same thing.  Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most helpful things anyone can do is come take a tour and see what we do.  People never fail to be surprised and impressed, and good things always come of that in fun and unpredictable ways.

Merry Christmas to  you all!

Updated Institutional Cost Study


This could also go under our “Penny Wise, Pound Foolish” series.  To serve one Illinoisan in a state institution costs $162,107/year.  The average cost/year to serve a person in their home community is $75,000/year, though the state only funds around $50,000 of that.  In a dire budget situation, anyone, including the state, should put their money in the most cost-effective and quality places.

Illinois Voices Newsletter

Illinois Voices Listserve – December 2010

Illinois Voices–a statewide newsletter by self-advocates, for self-advocates.  Several consumers attend the Speak Up Speak Out Summit in Springfield.  All said it was fantastic.  Please note that there is a link to a survey for people with Down Syndrome and their families in the newsletter to get input on national advocacy priorities.

Streator Steps Up

A great article on how the community is supporting us in the face of our grant cuts.  Please note that Donahue Auto Service is donating $2.50 from every oil change in the month of December and Sailboat Coins & Currency will match this.  It has been overwhelming and thrilling to see the support coming from a wide variety of sources.  There have been some incredibly generous individuals, businesses and organizations.  Support has come in many other ways as well–an impromptu Christmas Party out at Knox Estates this afternoon thrown by community members, donations of gift certificates to local restaurants and the movie theatre to replace outings that we’ve had to reduce for our consumers, offers to volunteer, you name it.  The people of Streator are extraordinary in their support of their community.

In terms of the restoration of those funds, or at least a chance for some of those consumers to get funding under the Medicaid Waiver now, instead of waiting to get to the top of the 20,000+ waiting list, we’ve had no news yet from Representative Mautino, who is doing his best to make that happen.  We continue to have hope, but that hope is dwindling.