The annual State of the States report is out. There is an extraordinary amount of information available in it. If you go to the “State Profiles” you can see Illinois. The most encouraging fact on the sheet is the way that Illinois’ spending on state institutions has started going down. There’s still a long ways to go, but we like to find positives wherever we can. By far the saddest part of the Illinois profile is the drop in number of persons served in day/work and supported employment programs from 28,266 in 2009 to 20,167 in 2011. We remember that very painful time when the funding for our sheltered workshop and others was eliminated by the state.
Clicking over to the “create a chart” tab on the website, it gets a bit fun. You can click on the data you want to see and what you want to compare it to. Here’s the most basic of the charts, showing Illinois’ effort towards community-based services. Proud as we are of our state, it is sad to see us not being a leader, not even being middle of the pack, but lagging near the bottom. There are signs of hope, and when the report begins reflecting the gradual change in Illinois away from institutional care and towards community care, we will begin to shine as we support our citizens with developmental disabilities to lead fuller lives in their home communities.