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Groups protest budget cuts at rally (Elgin Illinois)
By Melissa Jenco TribLocal reporter
For Chris and Elizabeth Frederick of South Elgin, caring for their 17-year-old son Thomas is an around-the-clock job.
The teen, who is both autistic and developmentally delayed, is eligible for school services until he turns 22, but after that is a question mark.
“We are wondering as we get older how are we going to take care of a child that is an adult, but is like caring for a 2-year-old,” his mother said at a rally Tuesday where she and others urged lawmakers not to cut state funding for community programs that now help the family.
“We’ve seen the erosion of the service system and it’s been on the backs of these folks that are least able to fend for themselves,” said Joyce Helander, executive director of DayOne Network which serves children and adults with developmental disabilities and delays.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed budget for 2012 would cut $76.25 million from programs serving people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and $39.53 million from programs serving people with mental illness, according to the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities.
Cuts to the budget, Helander said, erode services, with more than 1,500 people in Kane and Kendall counties already on waiting lists.
The Association for Individual Development also has been dealing with cuts over the last few years, according to Kathy Hazelwood, vice president of marketing and development. Additional cuts would mean some people will lose home-based services as well as respite and mental health services.
“You’re going to find these people are going to be in shelters, in the jails,” she said.
AID serves 5,400 people of all ages in Kane and Kendall counties and operates 32 group homes in the two counties.
Both Hazelwood and Helander said it costs significantly less for community organizations to take care of the disabled in group homes than in state-operated institutional settings, but they need support to survive.
“Somewhere the system needs to be more reasonable,” Helander said. “And give someone else a turn to live with these cuts.”