Rebalancing Initiative

The State of Illinois is in the process of closing Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.  We are excited about this and the already-completed closure of Jacksonville Developmental Center.  We have always advocated closing state institutions in favor of services based in the person’s home community.  It is much better in terms of quality of life.  Incredibly, it is also less expensive.  It’s a great opportunity for a state with limited financial resources to both improve the system and reduce expenses at the same time.

That said, we’re not insensitive to the impact on the communities where these institutions are located.  These institutions employ a lot of people and have a big economic impact on their communities.  This gives rise to a lot of fear and animosity regarding the closure.  We’ve felt that fear ourselves when Pontiac prison was slated for closure in the past, and with the closure of the prison in Dwight in the present.  We can empathize with these communities in terms of the economic impact and human cost in losing the jobs, but we know the state must move forward in providing better services for people with developmental disabilities and leave the outmoded institutional model of the past behind.

There are point and counter-point editorials out today.  Though SU didn’t serve anyone coming out of Jacksonville, we were a participant in the process and felt the state was taking a great, person-centered approach.  We will also be involved in the process of the Murray closure, and will look at serving anyone whose needs we can do a good job of meeting and who is interested in living in the Streator area.  Thus, we believe Division of Developmental Disabilities Director Kevin Casey has done a good and accurate job of outlining the process in his editorial today.  We do understand the community concerns at the heart of the opposition though, in whatever form they may be expressed.

There is still a long ways to go before Illinois ends its institutional service system and puts its full focus on person-centered, community-based services.


State of the State Address

Governor Quinn gave the State of the State Address on Wednesday.  As usual, we had our ear out for the forthcoming Budget Address and good old budget season:  what will happen with our funding next fiscal year?  If there’s a minimum wage increase would we get funding to cover the increased costs?  How are we going to deal with healthcare reform?  However, all those concerns went away with a moment of bliss.  Governor Quinn, thank  you for your beautiful words and commitment to better lives for people with developmental disabilities:

                                    “EMBRACING ALL PEOPLE

Four years ago, Illinois lagged behind the nation in providing community care to people withdevelopmental disabilities and mental health challenges. We were institutionalizing more people than any other state, even though community care has been proven to provide a better quality of life. So we are changing that. We’re committed to making sure all our citizens – regardless of the challenges they face – have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
That’s why we closed outdated institutions – and we invested in community care. We invested in people. People like Eddy Fleming are now thriving with a better, more independent life. After 12 years of living at a state institution, Eddy recently moved to a community home. He chooses what he wants to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He goes shopping, he walks around his neighborhood, and he practices guitar on his porch.  Eddy makes his own choices and chases his own dreams.  That’s our Illinois.
And I am pleased to announce today that, because of our commitment, Illinois will soon receive significant new resources to provide supportive housing for people with disabilities.  These resources will provide not only a roof over their heads…but also the skills training, counseling, and services they need to become productive members of their communities. 
And we’re not done yet.  We want Illinois to be the nation’s leading employer of people with disabilities.  With your partnership, we can double the rate of employment for people with disabilities by 2015.”