Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Medicare Plan for Payments Irks Hospitals, performance based; May 30 2011 : NY Times

Medicare Plan for Payments Irks Hospitals :
The New York Yimes : By ROBERT PEAR : May 30 2011

WASHINGTON — For the first time in its history, Medicare will soon track spending on millions of individual beneficiaries, reward hospitals that hold down costs and penalize those whose patients prove most expensive

The administration plans to establish “Medicare spending per beneficiary” as a new measure of hospital performance, just like the mortality rate for heart attack patients and the infection rate for surgery patients.

Hospitals could be held accountable not only for the cost of the care they provide, but also for the cost of services performed by doctors and other health care providers in the 90 days after a Medicare patient leaves the hospital.

This plan has drawn fire from hospitals, which say they have little control over services provided after a patient’s discharge — and, in many cases, do not even know about them. More generally, they are apprehensive about Medicare’s plans to reward and penalize hospitals based on untested measures of efficiency that include spending per beneficiary.

A major goal of the new health care law, often overlooked, is to improve “the quality and efficiency of health care” by linking payments to the performance of health care providers. The new Medicare initiative, known as value-based purchasing, will redistribute money among more than 3,100 hospitals.

Medicare will begin computing performance scores in July, for monetary rewards and penalties that start in October 2012.

The desire to reward hospitals for high-quality care is not new or controversial. The idea can be traced back to a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress in 2005, when Democrats and Republicans were still working together on health care. However, adding in “efficiency” is entirely new and controversial, as no consensus exists on how to define or measure the efficiency of health care providers.

The new health care law directs the secretary of health and human services to develop “efficiency measures, including measures of Medicare spending per beneficiary.” Obama administration officials will decide how to calculate spending per beneficiary and how to use it in paying hospitals.

Administration officials hope such efforts will slow the growth of Medicare without risking the political firestorm that burned Republicans who tried to remake the program this year.

In calculating Medicare spending per beneficiary, the administration said, it wants to count costs generated during a hospital stay, the three days before it and the 90 days afterward. This, it said, will encourage hospitals to coordinate care “in an efficient manner over an extended time period.”

If, for example, an 83-year-old woman is admitted to a hospital with a broken hip, she might have hip replacement surgery and then be released to a nursing home or a rehabilitation hospital. When she recovers, she might return to her own home, but still visit doctors and physical therapists or receive care from a home health agency. If she develops a serious infection, she might go back to the hospital within 90 days.

The new measure of Medicare spending per beneficiary would include all these costs, which — federal officials say — could be reduced by better coordination of care and communication among providers.

Here, in simplified form, is an example offered by federal officials to show how the rewards might work. If Medicare spends an average of $9,125 per beneficiary at a particular hospital and if the comparable figure for all hospitals nationwide is $12,467, the hospital would receive high marks — 9 points out of a possible 10 awarded for efficiency. This measure, combined with measures of quality, would be used to compute an overall performance score for the hospital. Based on this score, Medicare would pay a higher or lower percentage of each claim filed by the hospital.

Federal officials are still working out details, including how to distribute the money.

Charles N. Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents investor-owned companies, said he supported efforts to pay hospitals according to their performance. But he said the administration was “off track” in trying to hold hospitals accountable for what Medicare spends on patients two or three months after they leave the hospital.

“That’s unrealistic, beyond the pale,” Mr. Kahn said.

Since 2004, Medicare has provided financial incentives to hospitals to report on the quality of care, using widely accepted clinical measures.

Much of the information is posted on a government Web site (hospitalcompare.hhs.gov), but it has not been used as a basis for paying hospitals.

For years, federal health officials have emphasized the importance of higher-quality care, mentioning efficiency as an afterthought. Now, alarmed at the trajectory of Medicare costs, they emphasize efficiency as an equally important goal.

Under the new health law, Medicare will reduce payments to hospitals if too many patients are readmitted after treatment for heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia. In addition, Medicare will cut payments to hospitals if they do not replace paper files with electronic health records, and it will further reduce payments to hospitals with high rates of preventable errors, injuries and infections.

Hospital payments account for the largest share of Medicare spending, and Medicare is the single largest payer for hospital services.

Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, and Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, have led efforts to pay health care providers for their performance — for the quality of services, rather than the quantity. House members from Iowa, Minnesota, Washington and Wisconsin have pushed for measures of efficiency, saying Medicare should reward low-cost, high-quality care of the type they say is provided in their states.

Without opposing the change, lawmakers from higher-cost states like Massachusetts and New York say the payment formula needs more work.

Teaching hospitals worry that the new policy will penalize them because they treat sicker, more expensive patients. Medicare officials tried to allay this concern, saying they would adjust the data to take account of patients’ age and the severity of their illnesses, as well as geographic differences in hospital wages.

Still, Kenneth E. Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said the formula “tends to discriminate against inner-city hospitals with large numbers of immigrant, poor and uninsured patients.”

By contrast, J. Kirk Norris, president of the Iowa Hospital Association, welcomed the new plan. “Medicare ought to pay for value,” he said.

Administration officials said they were aware of concerns that some hospitals might try to increase their performance scores by avoiding high-risk patients. The officials said they would watch closely for signs of such a problem.

Illinois Bill that could have closed Oak Forest Hospital dies in Legislator : May 31, 2011

Chicago Sun Times : BY LISA DONOVAN AND MONIFA THOMAS Staff Reporters

A bill that would have paved the way for Cook County to quickly shutter Oak Forest Hospital and turn it in to a regional outpatient center has died, leaving the future of the hospital in doubt. After a state regulatory board denied the county’s application to close Oak Forest earlier this month, legislation was introduced to remove the county health system from state oversight — an end-run for the county to close the costly hospital operation Wednesday and begin offering outpatient services. Known as Senate Bill 40, the bill was amended by state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) to allow Cook County to close any of its three hospitals without state approval.

Though it passed the Senate, the measure failed to make it to the House floor for a vote on Tuesday, the deadline for the General Assembly’s spring session.

“I’m not planning to call it at this point,” Currie said Tuesday afternoon. “The president of the Cook County Board [Toni Preckwinkle] felt that we didn’t have a solid enough vote total, so we’re not going ahead with it.”

The bill faced stiff opposition from the House’s black caucus and community groups who felt the changes at Oak Forest would reduce access to health care for south suburban residents.

It’s unclear what, if any, back-up plan the county has to deal with the setback. A Preckwinkle spokeswoman did not return repeated phone messages and e-mails regarding the issue.

By closing the hospital, whose patient numbers are dwindling, the county would save $10 million in the last six months of the year or $20 million annually.

Adam Rosen, a spokesman for Service Employees Union International Local 73, which represents hundreds of workers in the county’s health and hospital system, said the union will meet with Preckwinkle “this summer to discuss keeping [Oak Forest] open.”

County officials will hold a press conference to discuss their plan for the hospital on Wednesday

Illinois RTA hosting 12 public hearings the weeks of June 6th and 13th 2011 on changes to the Seniors Ride Free program

The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will be hosting 12 public hearings the weeks of June 6th and 13th throughout our six-county region to communicate changes to the Seniors Ride Free program. Legislation that became law in February restricted free rides to low income Illinois seniors that are enrolled in the Circuit Breaker program managed by the Illinois Department on Aging. All other seniors will be required to pay a reduced fare. The changes take effect this summer. Seniors age 65 or older are encouraged to attend the hearings to learn about the program changes and the timetable for the changes to take effect.

“The RTA is working with the CTA, Metra, Pace and the Illinois Department on Aging to provide extensive communications and outreach over the next few months to help ensure seniors are well informed and properly guided prior to the program changes,” said Joseph Costello, RTA Executive Director. Currently, over 440,000 seniors are enrolled in the RTA Seniors Ride Free program.

The public hearings schedule is as follows:

Monday, June 6
Chicago South – 2:00 p.m.
Sheldon Heights Church - The Auditorium, 11325 S. Halsted, Chicago

Tuesday, June 7
Chicago Southwest - 10:30 a.m.
National Museum of Mexican Art - West Wing, 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago

Cook County North - 4:30 p.m.
Pace Headquarters – Board Room, 550 W. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights

Wednesday, June 8
Cook County South - 10:30 a.m.
South Suburban Mayors & Managers - Room 1906, 1906 W. 174th St., East Hazel Crest

Cook County West - 4:00 p.m.
Howard Mohr Center - Community Room, 7640 W. Jackson Blvd., Forest Park

Thursday, June 9
DuPage County - 10:00 a.m.
DuPage County Building - Auditorium, 421 N. County Farm Rd., Wheaton

McHenry County - 2:00 p.m.
McHenry Administration Bldg., - 2nd Fl., Conf. Rm. A, 667 Ware Rd., Woodstock

Monday, June 13
Kane County - 10:30 a.m.
Aurora Police Dept., - Community Room, 1200 E. Indian Trail, Aurora

Tuesday, June 14
Chicago West - 11:00 a.m.
Austin Town Hall - Auditorium, 5610 W. Lake St., Chicago

Will County - 2:30 p.m.
Joliet City Hall - Council Chambers, 150 W. Jefferson St., Joliet

Thursday, June 16
Lake County - 10:30 a.m.
Waukegan Public Library - Bradbury Room, 128 N. County St., Waukegan

Chicago North - 1:30 p.m.
Levy Senior Center - Linden Room, 300 Dodge Ave., Evanston

Meetings are open to the public and locations are ADA accessible. If attendees require a reasonable accommodation such as a language translator or hearing interpreter in order to attend a meeting or have questions, they should call 312-913-3153 (TTY: 312-913-3111) or email communications@rtachicago.org at least three business days before the meeting. For more information, visit www.RTAchicago.com.

Thank you and hope you are able to attend - PLEASE spread the word!

Illinois Legislation for Nursing Home Reforms Heads to Governor : May 31, 2011

Legislation helping disabled heads to governor : By Sam Roe
Chicago Tribune : May 31, 2011

The Illinois Senate today joined the state House in passing sweeping reforms to safeguard thousands of children and adults with severe developmental disabilities.

The proposed new laws, sparked by a Tribune investigation, include stiffer fines for poor care, a ban on new admissions at troubled homes, stricter rules on the use of psychotropic medications and fewer roadblocks to closing facilities.

Facilities for people with disabilities also would be required to report all deaths to state authorities and to local coroners and medical examiners.

In October, a Tribune series documented a 10-year pattern of death and neglect at a North Side nursing facility now called Alden Village North. The newspaper found that 13 children and young adults had died in cases that resulted in state citations for neglect or failure to investigate.

State officials announced they would close the home, and Gov. Pat Quinn asked his senior health policy adviser, Michael Gelder, to draft legislation to protect residents at the other roughly 300 facilities in Illinois that care for the developmentally disabled.

Similar reforms were adopted last year for nursing homes that serve the elderly and people with mental disabilities.

Advocates hailed the legislation helping the disabled but said it did not go far enough.

The bill, passed by the House Monday, needs only a signature from Gov. Pat Quinn to become law.

Advocates Hit Back At State-Contracted Private Health Plans: May 31st, 2011

Progressive Illinois : by Sally Ho : May 31st, 2011

Chicago-area seniors and people with disabilities will start to enroll in state-contracted private health insurance plans today under the Integrated Care Program (ICP). The Medicaid-managed care system will be headed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), but health care advocates were quick to caution that it might not be a good deal for Illinois in the long run.

In fact, the Illinois Campaign for Better Healthcare now questions how Illinois Health Connect, another HFS program that they say is more cost-efficient with higher quality care, will survive.

The Integrated Care Program takes on 40,000 Medicaid-eligible people in suburban Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Lake, and Will Counties who will enroll in health plans by either Aetna Inc. or Centene Corp’s IlliniCare program. A Tribune report noted this new system is poised to save Illinois $200 million in the next five years and is part of a new law signed in January that requires coordinated care to cover at least 50 percent of the state's 2.9 million Medicaid users by 2015.

A report released last summer, on the other hand, shows Illinois Health Connect saves $0.25 billion annually by simply coordinating care between the private sector, government, and medical industry, according to Jim Duffett, executive director of the Campaign for Better Health Care. Health Connect tracks patients within Medicare and provides case management that has lead to better quality care. “The insurance industry doesn’t like it because they’re not at the center of the spoke of the wheel, but we already have a good program,” Duffett said. While Health Connect remains intact for now, Duffett said advocates are worried about how it will survive as the Integrated Care Program is expected to expand.

Evidence Rules Leave Disabled Canadian Girls and Women Open To Sexual Abuse: May 30 2011 The Vancouver Sun

By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun May 30, 2011

Canadian girls and women with disabilities are up to 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted or exploited than other girls and women. Overwhelmingly, their attackers are the people they trust most.

During their lifetimes, research suggests, 83 per cent of women with disabilities are sexually abused; 80 per cent of female psychiatric in-patients will be physically or sexually assaulted.

Before they turn 18, 40 to 70 per cent of girls with intellectual disabilities will be sexually exploited.

In three out of four cases, the assailants are doctors, teachers, parents and caregivers, or the friends of those trusted individuals.

The assumption seems to be that the girls and women cannot or will not complain, and there's good reason for these despicable predators to believe that.

Fewer than four per cent of sexual assaults on mentally disabled women and girls are reported. When these highly vulnerable girls and women report sexual abuse, they are often re-victimized.

It's rare for charges to be laid in any sexual-assault cases; rarer still when the victim has a mental disability. And when one of these rare cases gets to court, the complainant faces a unique hurdle.

The Evidence Act allows defence lawyers to challenge a person's mental capacity to understand what it means to take an oath to tell the truth and promise not to tell a lie.

Those with mental disabilities are the only people other than children who can be questioned about their understanding of the duty to tell the truth.

"No other category of witness is required to do so," Joanna Birenbaum, legal director for the Women's Legal, Education and Action Fund (LEAF), points out.

"Not even convicted perjurers are probed before taking the stand on whether they feel bound to tell the truth."

By challenging a mentally disabled person's ability to understand the abstract philosophical meaning of truth, defence lawyers usually succeed in silencing their clients' accusers and winning an acquittal.

Given the pervasiveness of the sexual assaults, this needs to change.

Earlier this month, LEAF, along with the Disabled Women's Network Canada (DAWN) appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada as interveners in an appeal of the case involving a woman known as K.B., who has the mental competency of a three-to six-yearold.

Police investigated after she told her teacher that her stepfather was playing "games" with her that included touching her genitals, buttocks and breasts.

Police found photographs of K.B. with bare breasts hidden in a trunk along with another pornographic image. And, during a recorded interview with police in 2005, she demonstrated how he touched her under her pyjamas and said it happened "all the time."

K.B. testified at the preliminary inquiry in 2006. But at trial, her competency was challenged.

She was asked a wide range of questions about specific hockey players, what she eats for breakfast and recent movies she'd seen. She was also asked what truth means and what it means to make a promise.

Her answers to the difficult, abstract questions were found by the trial judge to be inadequate. She was disqualified from testifying.

I can't help but wonder who among us might have met the judge's standard.

Truth. Lies. Promises. Their meanings have bedevilled philosophers and theologians. So asking anyone -and especially people with mental disabilities -to define those concepts in court seems unnecessarily discriminatory.

Birenbaum suggests that the requirement to do so is "based on deeply rooted stereotypes that such persons are unreliable and cannot accurately perceive, remember or relate events, or distinguish fact from fiction."

She argues for more appropriate and less onerous ways to evaluate whether someone is mentally competent to testify, because if the Ontario decision is upheld, "It will effectively render these women beyond the law's reach and protection.

"It will discourage reporting, impede prosecution, and further deepen these women's exclusion, thus leaving the women with the most severe disabilities the least likely to have access to justice."

There is reason to believe the Supreme Court justices will agree.

In an earlier decision, the court warned judges "should not be quick to leap to the assumption that a person with mental disabilities is not competent to give useful testimony." In another ruling, it noted that judges ought to avoid "any suggestion that a particular treatment, therapy, illness or disability implies unreliability."

No one wants wrongful convictions based on faulty testimony.

But if perjurers aren't required to explain their understanding of truth, why is the bar so high for people who have shown no propensity to lie?

If there is to be any chance to reduce the horrifically high levels of sexual exploitation of these most vulnerable people, the witnesses must be heard.

By giving them voice, the Supreme Court would make it more difficult for these despicable predators to get away with it.


© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Evidence+rules+leave+disabled+Canadian+girls+open+abuse/4860978/story.html#ixzz1Nxrs1KEq

US Labor Department announces about $20 million to fund state-run programs aimed at improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities: May 31, 2011

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2011/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of approximately $20 million to fund programs that will improve education, training and employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities. A solicitation for grant applications is published in today's edition of the Federal Register.

The Disability Employment Initiative is a joint project of the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration and its Office of Disability Employment Policy. Programs to be funded will serve individuals who are unemployed, underemployed and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits. The goals of the project are to improve coordination and collaboration across multiple service delivery systems, build effective partnerships that leverage public and private resources to better serve people with disabilities and, ultimately, improve employment outcomes of people with disabilities.

"Workers with disabilities suffer from one of the lowest employment rates of any group in the American population, even in times of prosperity," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "It is vital that state and local agencies work together with private sector partners to improve these statistics. Through this second round of funding, we are expanding the Disability Employment Initiative to include programs in additional states."

Grantees under the Disability Employment Initiative are state workforce agencies. Nine – in Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Virginia – received grants through a first round of funding awarded in September 2010 for a period of three years. This solicitation for applications represents a second round of funding; agencies in the remaining 41 states are eligible to apply. Recipient state workforce agencies will collaborate with workforce investment boards and local agencies. Awards will range from $1.5 to $6 million each to be spent over a three-year period. Cooperative agreements will be used to expand service delivery through the public workforce system to job seekers with disabilities. The programs will build upon the Labor Department's Disability Program Navigator initiative and other model service delivery strategies.

Training and employment services supported by these grants are intended to help reduce the unacceptably low employment rates experienced by people with disabilities. The complete solicitation for applications is available at http://www.doleta.gov/grants.

U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Labor

ACTION ALERT for Illinois House: TODAY ONLY May 31, 2011 : Illinois Emergency and Transitional Housing will be cut by 52%

House Must Approve Amended Budget to Restore Budget Cuts TODAY

The Senate approved the House version of the budget yesterday, House Bill 3717, but also passed an amendment to the state capital budget, House Bill 2189, restoring $431 million in budget cuts, including the cuts to Emergency and Transitional Housing and Homeless Prevention.

If the House doesn't approve the amended budget, Emergency and Transitional Housing will be cut by 52% to $4.4 million and Homeless Prevention will be cut 38% to $1.5 million.

Please call your House members in Springfield, even if you have already called, and ask them to support the Senate amendment restoring cuts to human service programs. If you have a personal means of contact with a legislator, such as a cell phone or email address, please use that. Otherwise, ask the legislative assistant who answers the phone in Springfield to send your message to the Representative on the floor. You can get their Springfield phone numbers here:

Please let me know if you make a call.
Thank you.
For more information contact Bob Palmer, Housing Action Illinois, 312-939-6074 x. 206 or bob@housingactionil.org.

Chicago: eligible students to get low-cost broadband Internet access : May 31, 2011

Chicago Sun Times: By FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter : May 31, 2011

The digital divide is about to narrow for 330,000 inner-city Chicago public school students.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Comcast executives Tuesday in announcing “Internet Esentials,” a joint program involving the city and the communications giant designed to provide high-speed Internet service for the famiies of 330,000 Chicago students who qualify for the free lunches under the school-lunch program.

Comcast normally charges $48.95 a month for broadband Internet service. Under the new program, eligible families will be able to get that service for $9.95 a month, with no installation or service fees.

In addition, eligible familes also will be able to purchase computers for $150.

The program will launch with the start of the next school year.

City officials said the parnership with Comcast is the first of its kind in the nation.

It’s one piece of a comprehensive plan to increase Internet access in inner-city Chicago neighborhoods. Chicago’s public libraries are taking part in training and awareness programs and providing business courses that aim to promote technology use.

Officials said the new program will run for a “at least three school years.” Families will remain eligible fpr the discounts so long as a child gets free lunches.

El Valor : Chicago, IL : People with Disabilities Programs ; 2011

Supporting People with Disabilities :

#Program Highlights
El Valor received an “Exemplary Status” designation from the International Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities for its high quality programs for persons with disabilities.

El Valor works with more than 1,000 individuals with disabilities and their families from diverse communities

The goal of the Adult Programs is to provide opportunities and choices for people with disabilities and their families; to be a part of a community that embraces diversity and supports individuals to reach their full potential.


EMPLOYMENT PLACEMENT PROGRAMS help individuals with special needs by training and assisting them with many employment opportunities.
RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY HOUSING encourages independent living for individuals with disabilities. Through this program, they learn the necessary life skills that will help them grow and participate in community life.
ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY PROGRAMS work with individuals who have experienced a traumatic brain injury through specialized case management services and links them to critically needed support services.
RESPITE PROGRAMS provide home services to allow the caregiver time to address additional responsibilities. 275 families rely on this program; 200 more are on the waiting list.
DEVELOPMENTAL TRAINING is for adults that live with more severe physical and developmental challenges providing training in communication, socialization, life-enrichment, recreational and vocational skills.
ENTREPRENUERIAL SKILLS are developed as participants create beautiful pieces of art often displayed at mainstream business and events such as Barney's of New York and El Valor's Don Quixote Dinner.

For further information, please contact Hector Izaguirre at hector.izaguirre@elvalor.net or at 312.997.2030 xt231.

In the United States, Latinos with disabilities are not participating in vocational rehabilitation
programs at levels proportionate to their representation in the population overall. Scholars
have attributed this to a number of factors including differing attitudes and beliefs about
concepts such as “disability,” “independence” and “success.” Researchers also have explained
disabled Latinos’ lower levels of successful vocational outcomes by pointing to a rehabilitation
system that does not fit the realities of many people from marginalized racial and ethnic backgrounds. TRUE INCLUSION needs to be increased.

As more baby-boomers age, the greater need there will be to increase home-based care services.

For more information about our Programs for People with Disabilities, please call or visit El Valor's main office:

El Valor
1850 W. 21st Street
Chicago, IL 60608

Phone: (312) 666-4511
TDD: (312) 666-3361
Fax: (312) 666-6677

Illinois Medicaid begins enrolling 40,000 people in private health plans : May 31, 2011

Chicago Tribune : By Bruce Japsen

Illinois' Medicaid health insurance program for the poor has begun enrolling 40,000 people into two private health plans, the beginning of a broader initiative to provide better coordinated and more cost-effective medical care for some elderly and disabled patients.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which runs the state Medicaid program for the poor, said today the program will serve seniors and adults with disabilities in suburban Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Lake and Will counties. They will have to enroll in a health plans operated by Aetna Inc. or the other private plan contracting with the state that is run by Centene Corp. subsidiary known as IlliniCare.

This integrated care program is the culmination of efforts to increase efficiency in government and improve care for some of the state's most vulnerable citizens," Julie Hamos, director of the state department of healthcare and family services, said in a statement today. "Through this innovative program we will improve outcomes and increase the quality of life for these residents while saving the taxpayers millions of dollars."

For years, the state Medicaid program has offered HMOs as a form of managed care for poor Illinois residents, largely children and parents of those children. But that managed care program has less than 200,000 of the state's more than 2 million Medicaid recipients.

Health plans and observers have long believed the low participation rate is largely because it is voluntary and available in limited areas of the state.

But in Illinois and other states across the country, moves to require more Medicaid patients choose private health plans have gained momentum in the poor economy that has seen state budget deficits grow dramatically. Medicaid, funded by dollars from both the state and federal government, is always a large part of any state budget.

Illinois health officials say the "Integrated Care Program" will save the state about $200 million during the next five years. A statement from the department of healthcare and family services said the state's contracts with Aetna and Centene have "pay for performance measures" that create incentives for the health plans to spend money on "better health and quality of life, while at the same time reducing the cost of the service over time."

There is much riding on the success of the Integrated Care Program's effort with the 40,000 seniors and disabled Medicaid recipients because it will eventually be expanded.

In January, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a measure that had support of Democrats and Republicans that will bring "coordinated care" to cover at least 50 percent of the state's 2.9 million Medicaid recipients by 2015.


"It's Our Story" Video Project : Becky Tuttle: "Growing Up With a Disability in Chicago" : Answers from America's Disability Activist

Becky Tuttle, part 10 of 14: "Growing Up With a Disability in Chicago"

Uploaded by ItsOurStoryProject on May 22, 2010
(refresh if no video)

Becky Tuttle of Atlanta, GA speaks about prejudices within and towards the disability community, as well as her continuous battles for disability rights.

Becky has live with a physical disability from an early age; she currently serves as executive director of Disability Link, the leading disability organization in the Atlanta area.

This is #14 out of more than 1,000 interviews that "It's Our Story" has collected in an effort to free the voices of the disability community. Visit us at www.itsourstory.org

This interview transcribed by Monica Romero.

# For more of It's Our Story, click headline or go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/ItsOurStoryProject

Bill toughening nursing home rules passes Illinois House : May 30, 2011

Chicago Tribune : By Todd Wilson

The House passed legislation today that would set stricter rules and guidelines for nursing homes in Illinois that care for the developmentally disabled.

The measure, which passed the House 69-45, would give harsher penalties for poor care and make sure families are notified quickly about problems at facilities.

Sponsoring Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said the purpose of the bill, which was inspired by a Tribune investigative series, is to focus on rehabilitation and preparing mentally ill and developmentally disabled residents to leave nursing homes and make their way in the outside world.

"We want to get people to get ready to live in the community," Feigenholtz said. "So now we're going to start looking at teaching people how to cook, possibly some vocational stuff. We're going to sit down and start working on that."

In October the Tribune reported on a North Side facility called Alden Village North where 13 developmentally disabled children and young adults have died since 2000.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Illinois : Disabled Veterans, Info, Resources...

Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Elite.

From Memorial Day and Veterans Day services around the state, to supporting local youth scholarships, to overseas troop support such as Operation Uplink, we make a difference. We are the Illinois VFW.

The VFW is active on behalf of veterans and their communities. We organize blood drives, lobby our elected officials in support of our nation's veterans, and promise support for returning vets and their families. We participate in many different community service organizations such as Make A Difference Day, National Volunteer Week, Toys for Tots, and March of Dimes.

We provide services and support to veterans, their spouses and their families. We act as a VA liaison to assist veterans in tackling a wide range of problems from securing support to acquiring well-deserved military awards. In Illinois, we have four Veterans Homes for the elderly and disabled, some specially equipped to care for Alzheimer patients. We perform graveside funeral service rites to honor the memory of a deceased comrade. We will always be here to ensure the honor and recognition due our veterans, in life and in death.

# For Illinois VFW, click headline or go to: http://vfwil.org/

Illinois Benefits for Disabled Veterans : Agencies, Benefits, Programs, Resources...

The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (the Illinois VA) offers various benefits to the state's disabled veterans. Veterans who suffered significant injuries or diseases while on active duty or in training are entitled to monetary compensation and other benefits for themselves and their families, as well as special accommodations in certain instances. Many benefits are national policies of the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The Illinois VA, through various local branches, ensures that state residents receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

1. Disability Compensation
An Illinois veteran receives tax-free compensation for disabilities that arose from, or were exacerbated by, injuries or diseases while on active duty. The monthly benefit ranges from $123 to more than $3,100, depending on the the level of disability and the veteran's number of dependents.

2. Disability Pension
Wartime veterans can receive a pension if they are permanently and totally disabled and their family income falls below a set annual limit based on their number of dependents. Taking the example of a housebound veteran with one dependent, the veteran would qualify for the pension if he made less than $18,120 in 2010. The VA would pay, in monthly installments, the difference between the veteran's actual income and $18,120.

3. Aid and Attendance
Veterans who must live in a nursing home or who need regular aid from a caregiver to perform everyday functions, may qualify for this benefit, which is in addition to the monthly pension.

4. Housebound Veterans
As with the aid and attendance benefit, veterans whose disability confines them to their residence may qualify for a monthly benefit, which is in addition to the monthly pension.

5. Homestead Exemption
Disabled veterans may qualify for a property tax exemption. Veterans with a service-connected disability that is rated at 75 percent or more by the VA can receive a $5,000 yearly tax exemption. Veterans with a disability that is rated at between 50 percent and 75 percent can receive a $2,500 exemption. The exemption applies to property on which federal funds have been used to purchase or construct specially-adapted housing for the veteran.

6. Specially Adapted Housing Grant
This federal benefit is for veterans with permanent and total disabilities due to the loss of extremities or blindness. The grant covers up to 50 percent of the cost of a specially-adapted house. By law, the maximum allowable grant as of 2010 was $63,780.

7. Fishing and Hunting Licenses
Disabled veterans can fish and hunt without the standard licenses that are required by law. Veterans should contact their local Veterans Service office to acquire a permit.

# Source: Jeffrey Nichols, eHow Contributor updated June 16, 2010
Read more: Illinois Benefits for Disabled Veterans | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6635250_illinois-benefits-disabled-veterans.html#ixzz1NmbHsiX4

# For The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs; click headline or go to; http://www2.illinois.gov/veterans/Pages/default.aspx

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Disabled American Veterans:DAV: Building Better Lives for America's Disabled Veterans : Info, Resources...

Services for Veterans :

Disabled American Veterans has never wavered in our commitment to serve our nation’s service-connected disabled veterans, their dependents and survivors. Our largest endeavor in fulfilling that mission is our National Service Program. In 88 offices throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico, the DAV employs a corps of approximately 260 National Service Officers (NSOs) who represent veterans and their families with claims for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense and other government agencies. Veterans need not be DAV members to take advantage of this outstanding assistance, which is provided free of charge.

NSOs function as attorneys-in-fact, assisting veterans and their families in filing claims for VA disability compensation and pension; vocational rehabilitation and employment; education; home loan guaranty; life insurance; death benefits; health care and much more. They provide free services, such as information seminars, counseling and community outreach. NSOs also represent veterans and active duty military personnel before Discharge Review Boards, Boards for Correction of Military Records, Physical Evaluation Boards and other official panel.

Who We Are

Uploaded by DisabledVeterans on Mar 14, 2011
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The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is a non-profit 501(c)(4) charity dedicated to building better lives for America’s disabled veterans and their families.

The DAV was founded in 1920 by disabled veterans returning from World War I to represent their unique interests. In 1932, the DAV was congressionally chartered as the official voice of the nation’s wartime disabled veterans.

With our brave Americans leaving the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the DAV’s services and advocacy are as relevant and critical today as in any time in our nation’s history.

Annually, the DAV represents more than 200,000 veterans and their dependents with claims for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense.

The DAV’s Voluntary Services Program operates a comprehensive network of volunteers who provide veterans free rides to and from VA medical facilities and improve care and morale for sick and disabled veterans.

The DAV’s 1.2 million members provide grassroots advocacy and services in communities nationwide. From educating lawmakers and the public about important issues to supporting services and legislation to help disabled veterans — the DAV is there to promote its message of hope to all who have served and sacrificed.

# For DAV website, go to: http://www.dav.org/


Uploaded by DisabledVeterans on Nov 10, 2010
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Hundreds of disabled veterans and federal officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony in Washington, D.C., for the first permanent memorial dedicated to America's disabled veterans Nov. 10, 2010. More information on the AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL can be found at http://www.avdlm.org.

Viewpoint: In Wake of Founder's Arrest, 'Shock School' for Autistic Children Should Be Shuttered : Time Magazine - May 27 2011

By Maia Szalavitz

On an August night four years ago, following phoned-in instructions from someone they believed was a supervisor, staff members of a group home for emotionally disturbed boys in Stoughton, Mass., rousted two teenage residents from their beds at 2 a.m., restrained them and administered dozens of painful electrical shocks.
Only after three hours of such abuse did a staff member think to verify the order to deliver shocks by calling the central office of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Mass., which ran the residence. That phone call revealed that the staff members had been tricked. One of the boys had to be hospitalized with second-degree burns.

It was not unusual to use skin shocks — which are reported to feel as painful as bee stings — to discipline the autistic, intellectually disabled and emotionally troubled youth housed by the Rotenberg Center. For the center's staff, it was also not unusual to be given instructions to do so over the phone in the middle of the night. Such practices are a major part of "treatment" offered by the controversial center, which has some 200 students from around the U.S.

But now, after 40 years in business, the program's founder, Matthew Israel, 77, has finally been forced to step down. He faces criminal charges for allegedly having destroyed videotape evidence of the events of Aug. 26, 2007, when the two boys were inappropriately shocked. Israel has denied the charges. His departure from the center, however — along with an investigation by the Justice Department for human rights violations — may mark the beginning of the end for another youth program that has long used unjustifiably harsh tactics on vulnerable people.

Prosecutors in the case struck a pretrial deal with Israel. To avoid jail time, he left the program and will remain on probation for five years. The court also launched a four-month investigation of the center's practices, to be led by former judge Isaac Borenstein.

He should shut Rotenberg down. Despite the fact that many parents still swear by the school's methods, there has been no controlled research to suggest that its punishing techniques — some kids are forced to wear electrodes and battery packs 24 hours a day so they can be shocked at any time — are more effective for changing behavior than more compassionate approaches.

If the school had been following even the most rudimentary behavioral protocols, nothing remotely like the 2007 incident should ever have occurred. No staff members or residents had witnessed the misbehavior that the mystery caller claimed as basis for ordering the shocks; neither did the boys' treatment plans include anything like the level of punishment they received.

Nonetheless, despite the boys' screaming and protests, which led to a near riot by other residents, not one of the six staff members at the site intervened or immediately called supervisors to ask if the order for the shocks was legitimate. Only one of the boys in the house suggested that the call may have been a hoax.

In essence, the staff had carried out a real-world replication of Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram's infamous obedience experiments. In that research, in which people were ordered by an authority figure to deliver what they thought were painful shocks to another person as punishment, nearly two-thirds of people complied. Even after being led to believe they had caused their victims to have heart attacks, they ramped up the voltage of shocks.

In Milgram's studies the "victims" were actors, but at Rotenberg the victims were real, injured children. Israel has claimed for years that what he does is humane, that it is superior to using psychiatric medication and that it effectively reduces self-injurious or otherwise destructive behavior.

But the fact that staff could so easily be led into sadistic practices by a simple order from an unknown person illustrates a fundamental problem with this approach. Using harsh tactics with emotionally disturbed youth has never been shown to be superior to compassionate treatment.

Indeed, the "side effects" of these tactics are often escalating toughness in staff and trauma in youth. In fact, the caller who ordered skin-shock punishment in August 2007 turned out to be a former Rotenberg student. Perhaps he wanted revenge against people he disliked or against the program itself. Whatever the reason, this aspect of the incident is telling in terms of the potential impact of the program on students.

Moreover, the center has previously been found to lie about its staff's qualifications; the people who mete out punishment are not necessarily all trained professionals. As I wrote in a New York Times op-ed in 2007, New York State investigators found "that shocks were being administered for such minor infractions as 'nagging' or 'failing to maintain a neat appearance'" at Rotenberg.

And recent research in autistic children suggests that shock therapy is the opposite of helpful. Autistic children are much more sensitive to touch, sight, taste and sounds and are more anxious than typical kids. They tend to use repetitive and sometimes self-destructive behavior as a way of soothing themselves when they get overwhelmed by sensation. Consequently, shocking them for trying to make themselves feel better is likely to be especially traumatic. It also doesn't help them understand or mitigate their sensory problems.

Treatment at the Rotenberg Center costs more than $200,000 a year, a tab that is often picked up by taxpayers under federal laws that require appropriate education for the disabled. That same money could buy an extraordinary level of live-in help and school-based support for disabled children, without any of the risks presented by Rotenberg.

If there were replicated, controlled, published trials showing that skin shocks help autistic children, the debate over the Rotenberg Center would be very different. It would be about whether punitive means are justified by positive ends. But the failure to produce any such data suggests that it the school should be shuttered and that no other program be allowed to use such tactics outside of an experimental setting under strict ethical controls. Torture has been allowed to pose as therapy for far too long.
# Thanks to everyone that summitted this article (ed. note)

The European Disability Forum : Info, Resources, of the Disability Movement in Europe

The European Disability Forum :
Our work covers all fields of European Union competence and a great number of initiatives. Although the European institutions might seem far for many citizens, the decisions taken by the European Union, which are the result of negotiations between all Member States, have a direct impact on the lives of persons with disabilities. That is why, the role of EDF is so important in monitoring all EU initiatives and in proposing new legislation to advance the rights of persons with disabilities

European Disability Forum | About us | Sign language

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# For more info, Explore The European Disability Forum; click headline or go to: http://www.edf-feph.org/default.asp

Our Opinion: State of Illinois plan to help disabled is backward : May 24, 2011 : State Journal Register

State Journal Register from Springfield, IL
Posted on May 24, 2011 Our Opinion: State plan to help disabled is backward

Last fall, Gov. Pat Quinn negotiated a deal with the state’s largest public employee union: In exchange for AFSCME members accepting $70 million in health insurance concessions and working with the state to find up to $50 million in additional savings, Quinn pledged no layoffs and no closures of state institutions through July 1, 2012.

We were critical of this deal at the time for strictly financial and political reasons. “Quinn is asking us to trust him as he puts the state’s most effective tool in bargaining for union concessions into storage for the next 22 months,” we wrote.

Today we’re lamenting that pledge once again, though this time on purely human terms.
Among those institutions that Quinn rendered closure-proof are eight state facilities — in Dwight, Anna, Centralia, Dixon, Jacksonville, Kankakee, Park Forest and Waukegan — that house people with developmental disabilities. For years, advocates for the developmentally disabled have tried, with very limited success, to persuade the state to move away from reliance on institutions and toward greater use of residential group homes and community programs for those with developmental disabilities.

At the same time, programs that serve the developmentally disabled and their families have suffered through years of steady cuts to their budgets and long delays in payment from the state. These are organizations like Sparc in Springfield, which operates small group homes, runs programs that provide employment for the developmentally disabled and provides important services to families of children with disabilities.

Quinn’s budget proposal for fiscal 2012 proposes to cut $76.3 million from these types of programs while increasing the budgets for state institutions by $30 million. It’s time for the state to realize that both financially and therapeutically, that formula is backward.

Housing an individual in an institution costs about $190,000 a year, or roughly four times the cost of living in a community setting, says Tony Paulauski, executive director of The Arc of Illinois, a consortium of roughly 60 agencies that serve the developmentally disabled and their families. Paulauski points to studies that show Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in the number of people housed in institutions and is 47th in the amount it spends on community services that keep people out of institutions and allow them to lead more productive lives.

Paulauski is pushing a plan in which the state would close at least four of its institutions and move their funding into community programs. Residents from those institutions would be moved into group home settings, like those operated locally by Sparc.

“We have a number of individuals in our programs who came from state institutions,” says Carlissa Puckett, director of Sparc. “If they will just transfer the resources to where people really want to live, we can do it.”

Lawmakers need to listen to people like Paulauski and Puckett. Illinois must move out of the dark ages in treating its most vulnerable citizens. More importantly, they should listen to people like Charlotte Cronin of Peoria, whose adult son moved into a group home at age 18.

“When you take people with disabilities and you cluster them in this huge setting where all they know is other people with disabilities and people who treat them like they’re disabled,” Cronin said, “they become far more disabled than they are or need to be.”

Copyright 2011 The State Journal-Register. Some rights reserved

Saturday, May 28, 2011

In Chicago CommunityHealth works to catch those who fall through cracks : article

CommunityHealth works to catch those who fall through cracks
Agency helps those who make too much for federal aid but have no health insurance
May 25, 2011|By Erin Calandriello, Special to the Tribune

Jackie Hudson, 46, of Chicago, works part time and is raising a child while she tries to control her diabetes. Her prescriptions cost the equivalent of a mortgage payment each month.

Hudson, who hasn't yet found full-time work, said she struggles to pay her bills because she doesn't have health insurance.

"I have never received a welfare payment. I work really hard," Hudson said. "I have diabetes, and my prescriptions each month cost about $1,500. That's on top of paying $900 for rent. So this is about doing what you have to do to survive."

Although she has no insurance, her income prevents her from being eligible for Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor.

That's why Hudson — like a growing number of working people in Chicago — turned to CommunityHealth, one of Illinois' largest volunteer-based health centers. The clinic, which was founded in 1993, provides free care to the uninsured who make too much money to qualify for federal aid.

We treat those who don't have or can't afford health insurance and are not eligible for Medicaid. We are a safety net for that vulnerable group," said Judith Haasis, CommunityHealth's executive director. "We're needed more now than ever. The number of uninsured is growing. Right now, there are no easy answers for the plight of the uninsured."

Eighty percent of CommunityHealth's patients come from working households. The majority of patients are Hispanic; 17 percent are African-American and 15 percent are Caucasian (40 percent of whom are Polish immigrants). In addition to primary care, CommunityHealth offers more than 20 specialty services, including gynecology, urology, dermatology and chiropractics.

Hudson met the organization's requirements for coverage: one must be uninsured, with the exception of Medicare Part A, which is in-patient hospital insurance; one's income must be at or below 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines; CommunityHealth must be the primary provider of care; and one cannot be eligible for a government sponsored program.

"It's been a lifesaver. There is no other place to go," said Hudson, who has been a patient at CommunityHealth for the last several years. "The doctors are very loyal and follow up. They really make you feel like they care, instead of trying to push you out. They try to treat the whole person."

When the recession hit in 2009, many more people turned to the clinic for help, officials said. The number of new patients served in 2009 grew by 33 percent, and in 2010 medical and dental visits increased by 15 percent from the previous year.

More than 400 volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses and nurse physician assistants from local hospitals including Rush Presbyterian, Northwestern Memorial, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Chicago and Loyola University conduct more than 22,000 medical visits annually, with additional support from 350 other volunteers.

The need for free prescriptions grew in 2009, resulting in the MedAccess Chicago pharmacy processing more than 59,000 prescriptions, valued at $8.9 million. With the expanded need for health care during the economic downturn, CommunityHealth decided to open a satellite site in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood in September.

"Recently, with unemployment increasing, we are seeing a different patient profile," Haasis said. "We are seeing small business owners who lost their businesses and are in low-income categories who can't afford insurance, or folks who lost their job with insurance benefits and are holding down multiple jobs that don't offer any insurance."

Even if the recently passed national health care plan fully rolls out as scheduled in 2014, about 175,000 residents in Cook County would remain uninsured, she said.

Ornella Razetto, coordinator of social services at CommunityHealth, said that during hard economic times, mental health problems such as depression and self-worth issues mirror employment issues. With increased unemployment, more people are seeking mental health services, she said.

"Here, we not only ask: 'Do have your medications? How's your blood pressure?' We ask: 'How are you?'" Razetto said. "With the state funding crisis, a lot of agencies have closed and some sites won't take self-paid patients, unless they have actual medical coverage. So the hands of the uninsured are tied — they don't know where they're supposed to go for mental health care services. We provide that support for them."

But there are limits to what CommunityHealth can offer on-site. The clinic cannot offer services such as MRIs and CT scans because of a limited amount of space, volunteers and funds, officials said.

As a totally free, volunteer-staffed organization, it receives no money from Medicare, Medicaid or third-party payers. It relies on individuals, foundations and corporations for more than 90 percent of its revenue.

So that's why CommunityHealth has become creative in building partnerships with other organizations, said Dr. Babs Waldman, volunteer medical director of CommunityHealth.

"You're back to why you became a doctor in the first place. These people are in great need, and your primary focus is taking care of patients, not making a living," Waldman said. "You're not worried about paying employees or insurance.

"For (medical) residents, it's a wonderful experience because you really learn it's important to take care of patients because we can't run expensive tests. It's frustrating, though, because someone could have prostate cancer and we need to get creative and look for partners at other institutions" to carry out tests.

Rush and Northwestern medical centers are donating their diagnostic services, including colonoscopies, ultrasounds and X-rays, Waldman said. Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge is providing MRI and CT scans for free on a limited basis, she said.

# For CommunityHealth:
To make an appointment at CommunityHealth at its West Side facility, call 773-395-9900. To make an appointment at the Englewood location, call 773-994-1515. To make a donation or receive more information, visit the website communityhealth.org or call 773-395-9901.

Parents of disabled children giving up on Illinois : article : May 28, 2011 Chicago Tribune

Parents of disabled children giving up on Illinois : May 28, 2011
Families move to other states as Illinois' social service funding shrinks
By Bonnie Miller Rubin and Monique Garcia, Tribune reporters

Chrisa Hickey, a northwest suburban mom whose 16-year-old son hears voices, has bought property in Wisconsin with an eye to the future.

She wouldn't leave Barrington for career, retirement or the more languid pace of small-town living. Her relocation plans are strictly a way to keep Tim in his $85,000-a-year residential treatment center, currently funded by the state of Illinois.

"People ask, 'Why spend that kind of money on one kid?' And I tell them that he's 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and could pick up a desk when he was 4. If he gets angry in class, do you want him sitting next to your kid?"

Although no one tracks why people leave one state for another, anecdotal evidence suggests Hickey is one of several who are planning to leave Illinois — or has already left — because of diminishing human services here.

Jennifer Humbert of Crete is exploring job prospects in a handful of states, including Minnesota, to secure more help for her 8-year-old daughter with bipolar disorder. Vicky Rowe has already uprooted her family, moving from Broadview to Niles, Mich., last year to boost treatment for her 9-year-old with cerebral palsy. And one week after Patrice Evans' preschooler was diagnosed with autism, her Grayslake home was on the market and she was headed to Kenosha for Wisconsin's generous funding of intensive therapy.

As Illinois lawmakers go into their final hours before their scheduled Tuesday adjournment, and with the House and Senate offering competing budget proposals, there's a fight to determine how deep officials will cut — or eliminate — programs that aid the state's most vulnerable residents.

Legislators say it will take all this and more to shrink the state's multibillion-dollar deficit.

"If we don't significantly get spending under control, we're going to have a jobs climate that makes it hard for a whole lot of people in this state to succeed," said Republican budget guru Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine. "It's not easy. You've got to say no to some people. You've got to prioritize."

Even though similar sentiments can be heard in statehouses nationwide, Illinois fares particularly poorly caring for its residents with disabilities, advocacy groups say.

In its 2011 state analysis, United Cerebral Palsy ranked Illinois 48th for providing services. By comparison, Michigan is third, Minnesota 14th and Wisconsin 20th. The University of Colorado's Coleman Institute of Cognitive Disorders also puts Illinois near the bottom for funding autism spectrum disorders, while the National Alliance on Mental Illness gives Illinois a D.

"I have absolutely no confidence in Illinois," said Humbert, whose daughter's transportation to therapy was eliminated last year.

Parents are propelled by a sense of urgency. Regardless of the disability, the earlier kids get help, the better the outcome, so families are rallying in Springfield, badgering officials and launching online petitions.

Or, like Chrisa Hickey, they have purchased a "shack" in Door County, Wis., in case her son's Illinois funding, known as an Individual Care Grant, is trimmed. Tim struggles with schizoaffective, bipolar and cognitive disorders, requiring 300 days of hospitalization between 2006 and 2009.

The teen now lives 90 miles away at the Oconomowoc, Wis., Developmental Training Center, where he attends school, has friends and even holds a part-time job.

Last year, a residential school in Quincy in western Illinois discharged emotionally disturbed students with Individual Care Grants because the state had not paid their bills. Rather than allow Tim to suffer a similar fate, the family is prepared to leave Barrington and establish residency in Wisconsin, where the pockets are perceived as deeper.

"He has achieved stability for the first time since age 4," Hickey said. "With supports, he can be a productive member of society. Without it, he's a threat."

Patrice Evans also looked north for answers. When her son was diagnosed with autism before his 3rd birthday, her clinician delivered this sobering pronouncement: If your child isn't effectively communicating by age 5, he never will.

"I hung up that phone and a week later, our house was on the market," said the mother of three boys.

By relocating from Grayslake to Kenosha in 2006, Geoffrey, now age 7, could qualify for three years of intensive therapy. "He's made tremendous gains. … It's a once-in-a-lifetime gift."

In Grayslake, the same treatment would have cost the family at least $88,000 a year — none of it paid for by the state or health insurance. Perhaps that is why about one-third of the parents in the Kenosha-area autism support group are Illinois refugees, said Farrah Sonnenberg, Geoffrey's service provider.

Evans acknowledges she is fortunate; she could give her son a better future by moving but still keep her job as a research analyst for the Lake County Circuit Court.

"Still, I'm from Illinois … and I'm angry that we had to move," she said.

Vicky Rowe, too, lived in Broadview for 20 years and didn't want to pull up stakes last June. But after surveying the bleak human-services landscape, she felt she had no choice. Despite Michigan's battered economy, the state allocates more resources to children like Jeanine. For starters, she will get 120 visits for occupational and physical therapy — compared with 60 here.

In Michigan, "I have my own personal caseworker who says, 'Tell me what you need.' In Illinois, everything was a fight," Rowe said.

Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, said she feels "really bad" for these families and understands why they are leaving. "They have to go someplace where they can get the care they deserve."

But the days of the open checkbook are over, said Laurence Msall, president of The Civic Federation, a tax policy and government research group. "Even though Illinois passed an enormous tax increase, the failure to cut spending to match reasonable revenue forecast is creating uncertainty," he said.

Ironically, say disability advocates, cutting services now will mean even more costly consequences later, from homeless shelters to the criminal justice system.

Charles Fox, a Northbrook special-education lawyer, cites the 75 percent unemployment rate among people with disabilities as just one example.

"We either pay on the front end … or we'll take the blows in other ways."


EEOC Sues BP One Stop for Disability Discrimination : May 27, 2011

EEOC Sues BP One Stop for Disability Discrimination
Waunakee, Wis., store allegedly fired employee for seeking medical attention

MILWAUKEE -- A BP One Stop store in Waunakee, Wis., owned and operated by Meffert Oil Co. Inc., violated federal civil rights laws by firing an employee because of her disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed Thursday in federal district court in Madison, Wis. Among other businesses, Waunakee-based Meffert owns and operates two BP One Stop stores in Waunakee.

Rosemary Fox, director of EEOC's Milwaukee Area Office, noted that the agency's administrative investigation, which preceded the lawsuit, revealed that Meffert appeared to have fired the woman for leaving her workplace to seek medical attention for her conditions, interstitial familial pulmonary fibrosis and panic attacks.

"No employer can force upon any disabled employee the impossible choice between necessary medical treatment and his or her job," said Fox.

The EEOC sued after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for the victim and injunctive relief to end the discriminatory practices. The suit, EEOC v. Meffert Oil Co. Inc., d/b/a Meffert's BP One Stop, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison. The case will be litigated primarily by Cesar del Peral and attorneys in the EEOC's Milwaukee-AREA Office

John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, said, "Meffert's BP One Stop allegedly discarded an employee whom it apparently thought useless because she had medical conditions. The EEOC will make its case and, we expect, vindicate the guiding principle that in America everyone gets the same opportunity to make a living, regardless of disabilities. This is the land of opportunity for everyone, not just the able-bodied."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.

Chicago Bears' rookie J.T. Thomas steps in as a prom date : May 23, 2011

Bears' rookie J.T. Thomas steps in as a prom date

Posted by Will Brinson : May 23, 2011

Generally, you wouldn't want to hear that an NFL player went out on date with an eighth-grader. But that's not the case with this story out of Morgantown, W.Va. That's where Bears rookie and former Mountaineer J.T. Thomas stepped in and took Joslyn Levell, who suffers from spina bifida, to her prom.

Thomas, whose autistic brother rides the same school bus as Levell, met her while dropping his brother off at the bus stop.

Turns out, Levell, who happens to be a big Bears fan, had been unable to secure a date for the prom and told the NFL player about it.

"I hugged her and signed a few things and we talked for awhile and she cried a bit," Thomas said. "I gave her a hug and told her everything would work itself out."

It sure did. Thomas' stepmom, Rochelle, checked with the school to see if it'd be all right for Thomas to escort Levell. Once they were clear, he asked her to the dance.

"I was nervous that by the time I reached out she might have had a date and would have to turn me down," he said.

Obviously she didn't, and they went to the dance together this past Friday, where Levell may or may not have emphasized her date's stature as an NFL player.

"The first thing one of the boys who was mean to me came up to me and said, 'I'm sorry I didn't believe you,' " Levell said. "It was soooo exciting. I'm just so excited to go to school and see what everyone has to say."

And the best part of all is that Thomas didn't do this to generate publicity.

"This was Joslyn's night," Thomas said. "It wasn't about me."

Certainly not, but in an offseason filled with stories that paint the NFL and its players in a negative light, it's refreshing to see a young player like Thomas pull off an incredibly selfless act.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Photo via NFL.com

Parkinson's Disease Foundation : What is Parkinson’s Disease? : info, resources....

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder that is chronic and progressive, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. Nearly one million people in the US are living with Parkinson's disease. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms.

Parkinson's disease occurs when a group of cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra begin to malfunction and die. These cells in the substantia nigra produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that sends information to the parts of the brain that control movement and coordination.

When a person has Parkinson's disease, their dopamine-producing cells begin to die and the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases. Messages from the brain telling the body how and when to move are therefore delivered more slowly, leaving a person incapable of initiating and controlling movements in a normal way.

Parkinson's disease can cause several different symptoms. The specific group of symptoms that an individual experiences varies from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:

tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face

rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk

bradykinesia or slowness of movement

postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

To learn more:
Have you been diagnosed with a Parkinson's Plus Syndrome? Read Understanding Parkinson’s Plus Syndromes and Atypical Parkinsonism – to better understand your diagnosis and how it may differ from a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

Order PDF's free publications, including our Introductory Packet and our new Parkinson's Disease Resource List.

Review the most frequently–asked questions that we receive through our Parkinson’s Information Service (PINS), by browsing the PINS Frequently

Asked Questions.
Learn general facts about Parkinson’s disease by reading, Parkinson’s FAQ.

For more info click headline ofr go to: http://www.pdf.org/en/about_pd

ADAPT (disabled activists) attempts To meet with Rep. Paul Ryan to discuss Medicare/Medicaid issues in Chicago: Video & Article: May 2011

Rep. Paul Ryan Refuses To Meet With ADAPT Disabled Activist

Uploaded by dogstar7 on May 16, 2011 : YouTube
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Members of the advocate group ADAPT protest outside the Palmer House in Chicago after being denied another meeting with Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee. Ryan's proposed budget would turn state Medicaid funding into a block grant to states. ADAPT wants to increase funding and earmark spending for individual care.

This interview was interrupted --- and ultimately DISRUPTED --- by a woman with a camera who refused to identify herself or the purpose of her recording. Her questions were argumentative and lead to a verbal altercation.


In this clip, we are told about over 100 disabled and their supporters arrested in Washington DC on May 3rd, 2011

"Of the 60 million people counting on Medicaid right now, 8.5 million are
people with disabilities; 8.8 million are low income frail, elderly and
disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid to plug the gaps in Medicare
coverage, such as long term care. Medicaid pays for vital services such as
wheelchairs and prostheses for people with spinal cord injuries and other
physical disabilities; prescription drugs for people with mental illnesses
and other medical conditions; services to assist people with intellectual
disabilities to live and work in the community rather than be forced into
an institution; and screening programs to identify and diagnose
disabilities for children.

There is widespread support for services for the people with disabilities
and older Americans. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll,
69% of Americans oppose cutting Medicaid. These results are consistent
with a 2010 Harris survey that found that 89% Americans supported a tax
increase to assure that people could receive services in their own homes,
rather than being forced into nursing facilities or other institutions.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) polls repeatedly find
that the vast majority of seniors want to age in their own homes with any
needed services.

"We cannot accept this invasion of our liberty any longer. The
institutional bias in federal and state policies steals our freedom, our
families, our homes, and our very lives," said Bruce Darling, an organizer
with Rochester ADAPT. "The Ryan Plan's claim of 'flexibility' is a lie.
We don't need flexibility in Medicaid cuts. We need flexibility in
Medicaid spending so people can choose the less expensive community
service options they want, and that will ultimately contain costs."

Jewish Child & Family Services : Calendar of Events June 2011: Chicago IL

It is the mission of Jewish Child & Family Services to provide help, healing and caring services infused with Jewish values to strengthen lives in the community.

JCFS provides vital, individualized, results-driven services for thousands of children, adults and families throughout the diverse Chicago community, including care for abused and neglected youth, therapies and support for people with disabilities and their families, early childhood autism and developmental assessments, respite care, special education, counseling and more.

Our highly skilled, compassionate staff are committed to continual professional training in the latest proven methods of child, adult and family treatment. Our professional staff members primarily hold graduate level degress and are licensed by the state of Illinois.

June 5, 2011
Chuppah Project
Sunday, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Workshop for Jewish Engaged and Newly Married Couples

June 6, 2011 - June 20, 2011
Parent Support Group - Response
1st and 3rd Mondays, 6:00 - 7:30 pm
A support group for parents raising teens and tweens.

June 12, 2011
Jewish Healing and Meditation
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Explore the ancient practice of meditation,the beauty of nature and Jewish prayer to help heal body, soul and spirit.

June 14, 2011
Staying Safe Online: Internet Safety for People with Disabilities
Tuesday, 6:00pm -8:00pm
Learn how to stay safe online

June 20, 2011 - August 1, 2011
Reconstructing your Life after the Suicide of a Loved One: A Grief Support Group
Mondays, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm (6 Weeks - No meeting July 4th)
A group for people who have lost a loved one to suicide.

June 21, 2011
Healing Hearts: Loss of a Parent or Sibling
Tuesday, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
For those mourning the death of a parent or sibling.

June 26, 2011
Family Sibday
9:30 am-1:30 pm
Celebrate brothers and sisters of children with a range of special needs and their families.

# For more info click headline or go to:

Central Office
216 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 800
Chicago, IL 60606 – view map
T 312 444 2090
F 312 855 3754

Friday, May 27, 2011

Our View: Illinois budget needs balance in how it treats most vulnerable : May 26, 2011 : Journal Star | Peoria, IL

Of all the budget cutting going on in Springfield, perhaps the most lamentable has been to programs serving the developmentally disabled and their families. These are among the most fragile people in Illinois, often with almost nowhere else to turn. Anybody who flippantly endorses cuts in those areas simply has not walked in those shoes.

Nonetheless, these are financially desperate times in state government, so programs that provide even very critical, life-saving services have been forced to accept austerity measures. We have long endorsed shared pain on the budget-cutting front on the premise that tough decisions now are necessary to avoid a meltdown later. What makes no sense, however, is why in the worst budget situation in memory, state government would actually hike funding for programs that research has shown provide less bang for the buck and may do their clients less good over the long haul.

That seems to be what's happening in the fight for limited funds between community-based social service programs such as those offered by Peoria's PARC and state-run institutions for the disabled, of which there are eight spread across Illinois. If the governor's proposed budget would cut millions from the former - already hit harder than most over the last couple of decades, while having to wait forever for payment for services they've already provided - it would throw more dollars at the latter.

There are reasons for this, few of them justifiable. Politically, the voice of these community-based programs and those they serve isn't as loud as others. To those not directly impacted by a disabled family member, these are invisible people. They don't have a powerful union like AFSCME to go to bat for them.

We appreciate that Gov. Quinn made a promise to AFSCME that he wouldn't support any layoffs or closure of any institutions where its members work through July 1, 2012 - in return for budget concessions, to be sure, but also for arguably his own political benefit during a hotly contested election campaign last year. We condemned that at the time. We don't blame AFSCME for looking out for AFSCME members; we do fault any political leader who would sell out another, very vulnerable constituency in making that deal.

We're accustomed to Illinois not being on the cutting edge of anything, but at some point state government has to get smarter about how it delivers services. If the trend nationwide has been toward community-based residential programs for the disabled that arguably do a better job of providing the same services at a fraction of the cost, Illinois ranks near the top nationally in the number of people institutionalized - at a reported $190,000 per individual annually - while sitting near the bottom in its spending on community services that keep folks out of those institutions. There may always be a need for some larger facilities to house those few who cannot be accommodated elsewhere, but Illinois is way out of balance here.

And when that institutional care comes at the expense of some really important local programs - like respite care for stressed, exhausted families who just need a break every now and again and a clear conscience in knowing their kids are in a safe environment, like group homes that have waiting lists to get in - it's regrettable and then some. Families in these situations need resources close to home, not half a state away for their loved ones, for whom it's especially unhealthy to be uprooted: "Everything they know has changed," said Charlotte Cronin, director of The Family Support Network based here in Peoria and herself the mother of a severely disabled young adult son. "Can you think of a hell bigger than that?"

From where we sit, the priorities here are upside down. This fails the fairness test. In the few days left in this legislative session, we hope the Legislature can correct this imbalance, and begin bringing social service delivery in Illinois into the 21st century.

Scrappers Suspected Of Stealing Teen’s Wheelchair; Gurnee, IL : May 27 2011 CBS Chicago

GURNEE (CBS) — Police believe scrappers, people who cruise areas when it is garbage day and pick up metal, may have been the ones who stole a teen’s wheelchair.

Marlon Tapang’s specialized motorized wheelchair was taken just before the bus arrived to take him to Warren Township High School last Friday, which was garbage day in his Hasting Lane neighborhood.

His mother, Jarka, said the chair cost $7,681.

Jarka’s husband Paul was going about his usual routine that Friday morning. He placed the chair outside in the driveway and returned to the house to help his son use a walker to get to the driveway.

When Paul got back outside, the bus was already there and he assumed the bus driver had already taken the chair, which had a backpack with Marlon’s study notes for his final exams and his lunch bag, and put it on the bus.

“Then they got a telephone call from the school and they asked why they sent him to school without his wheelchair,” Gurnee Police Cmdr. Jay Patrick said Wednesday. “There have been no leads,” he said, adding he believes scrappers got it.

The motorized custom-made wheelchair affords Marlon, who has cerebral palsy, the most independence. His mother expects to be able to get another one through the insurance company, and she is asking people who want to donate money to her to instead donate money to the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association of Lake Forest, which helps disabled children play sports by providing special equipment.

“If the insurance comes through, people should help out this place, it’s the best place,” she said. GLASA donated a chair for Marlon to use temporarily.

She recently heard from a friend who had their lawnmower grabbed by scrappers. The friend’s husband tried to chase them, but they were too fast.

Illinois House panel OKs nursing home changes : May 26, 2011 : Chicago Tribune

Posted by Monique Garcia

A House committee today approved legislation that would toughen rules for facilities that care for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.

The idea is to set up new regulations for those facilities instead of lumping them under the same guidelines that apply to nursing homes. The state wants the homes to focus on rehabilitation instead of warehousing residents who may have the ability to re-enter society, said sponsoring Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.
Some of the changes were sparked by a Tribune investigative series last year about a North Side facility now called Alden Village North, where 13 children and young adults have died since 2000.

Disability Community Threatened by State of Illinois Cuts : article : May 26 2011 TribLocal

By Hal Troupin

Illinois is planning devastating cuts to services for individuals with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities. These cuts target our most vulnerable citizens and are being sold as a way to balance Illinois estimated $13 billion deficit. The truth is, these cuts are short sighted and will send us on a path of destruction.
Illinois ranks last in the nation for supporting citizens with disabilities in their home communities. Disability services that are the life line to more than 220,000 people with disabilities and their families have already experienced deep cuts and are hanging by a thread. In addition to funding reductions several critical programs are being eliminated and its estimated that 3,052 direct care staff will be laid off as a result. At the same time the budget calls for the hiring of 950 state employees and grants union employees and 8.25% wage increase. The budget has the wrong priorities and the process is flawed.
There are currently three budget proposals on the table, The Governors, House and Senate. The House's estimate of revenues is about $2 billion lower than the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), a bipartisan agency with a proven track record of making accurate revenue projections. Using CGFAs reasonable estimate of revenues could save critical disability programs.
The Senate's proposed budget disproportionately impacts individuals with disabilities by prioritizing programs that do not maximize taxpayer dollars. The Autism Program is reduced by 25% and the Centers for Independent Living is cut by 36%.
The Governor's budget appropriates $30 million to state institutions and cuts community based services by $76.3 million even though numerous studies prove community services are safer, more effective and efficient. Four people can be served in a community setting for every one person in an institution. This is unconscionable. Furthermore, the proposed budgets do nothing to address the backlog in payments owed to disabilty service providers. Some have been forced to shut their doors and others are on the brink of collapse because the state is six months behind in payments.
The disabled community can not withstand additional cuts. The budgets deepen the gap to accessible disability services and does nothing to address the 21,000 people in the Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Serivces (PUNS) database who are desperately waiting for state services.
Most people would agree that services to help people with disabilities live life with independence, equality and dignity are the kind of programs that are worthy of taxpayer funds. That is what our society was built on. It is what our founding fathers had in mind when developing the system of government. We must provide assistance to help those who truly and desperately need it. Its not a hand out its common decency. Now its up to our lawmakers to make the right choices.
Thanks to Teri Steinberg,IAMC, Disability Advocate and Tony Paulauski, Executive Director, The Arc of Illinois for bringing this to our attention.

Cook County Illinois WIC Services In Jeopardy? : video & report : May 26 2011 CBS2

CHICAGO (CBS2) — The Women, Infants and Children program, or WIC, is in big trouble here in Cook County.

For the first time more than 20 years, Cook County may be opting out of the federally funded program.

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, advocates of that program fear that many women and children will suffer.

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Lewis says the WIC program also taught her the importance of eating right.

“I was the type of person who didn’t eat a vegetable. Now I eat every vegetable there is in the world,” she said.

And more importantly, she instilled those nutritional habits in her children.

Ambar Sosa says WIC has helped her supply her son, Giancarlo, with good nutrition ever since he was born four years ago.

“They give me milk, they gave me beans, they gave me juice, they gave me a lot of stuff that I really need,” Sosa said.

But now the Cicero WIC office where Sosa gets the services is slated to close. It’s one of 11 offices run by Cook County that will be affected if Cook County ends its affiliation with the federally funded program by the end of June.

Health Advocate Jacquelin Johnson says women and young children under the age of five will be the ones paying the price if the county no longer takes the $3 million dollars in WIC funds being offered by the federal government.

She says it will put lives at risk.

Union jobs will also be lost if the plan goes through. Anne Irving, policy director at the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 31, says 50 people will be laid off.

“I think the real tragedy here is the impact on the families that rely on these services,” she said. “If we have fewer families seeking services … that will have an impact.”

City WIC offices will not be affected. The Cook County Department of Public Health declined an interview request. The agency released a statement saying the Illinois Department of Human Services administers WIC, and the program will continue to be provided to their clients without interruption.

In all, about 23,000 women and children are served by the county’s WIC sites

Study Confirms Link Between Rheumatoid Arthritis And COPD : May 26 2011

COPD prevalence twice as high in patients with RA

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are two times more likely to have concurrent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than healthy controls -- an association which was sustained even when variables such as age, gender, smoking and obesity were controlled for, according to a study presented today at the EULAR 2011 Annual Congress.

The study of 15,766 patients with RA and 15,340 controls found that the prevalence of COPD was significantly higher in RA patients than healthy controls (8.9% vs 4.4%, p<0.001). Interestingly, the link was still significant (p<0.001) after risk factors common in both RA and COPD patients, such as smoking, obesity and socioeconomic status, were controlled for.

We know that similar changes in core physiological processes cause symptoms in RA and COPD and we hope that the results of our study prompts new research into potential links between altered genetic and autoimmune processes in the two conditions" said Dr. Amital of the Sheba Medical Centre, Israel.

The large, population-based case-control study was performed using the patient database of Israel's largest healthcare provider, Clalit Health Services. The prevalence of COPD was compared between RA patients over 20 years of age and a sample of age- and gender-matched patients without RA (the control group). Group matching was performed and data on health-related lifestyles and other co-morbidities was collected. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to compare study groups and to control for the confounders of age, gender, socioeconomic status, smoking and obesity.

Chicago Area Summer Festival's For 2011 : May 27 thru July 31

From various sources, contact the Festival's Sponsor for Accessibility, at the end of this post will be helpful info:

MAY 27-31;
Gaelic Park Irish Fest Fri 27–May 30 at noon. Gaelic Park, 6119 W 147th St, Oak Forest (708-687-9323). $15, kids and seniors $12. Step dance into Oak Forest for this four-day Irish bonanza featuring live music, dancing, games and theater. Headliners include Ronan Tynan, Leahy and Tartan Terrors.

* International Mr. Leather Weekend Fri 27, Sat 28, 11–2am; Sun 29, 11am–midnight; May 30, 11am–5pm. Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E Wacker Dr (312-565-1234). El: Brown, Orange, Green, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to State/Lake. Bus: 2, 3, 6, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Bronze package $165, silver package $180, gold package $195. What started out as a contest in a bar in 1979 is now a four-day event featuring a fetish and leather market, a physique competition, and, of course, the annual crowning of International Mr. Leather himself.

Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival Sat 28, Sun 29, noon–10pm. Sheffield Ave between Belmont Ave and School St (773-868-3010). El: Red, Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Belmont. Bus: 22, 77. $5. Kick off your Memorial Day weekend by singing along to cover bands like Too White Crew and Wedding Banned.

Randolph Street Market Festival Final weekend of the month through September: Saturdays 10am–5pm, Sundays 10am–4pm. 1350 block of W Randolph St (312-666-1200). El: Green, Pink to Ashland. Bus: 9, 20. $10, online $8. This monthly fest is home to the Chicago Antique Market and Indie Designer Market. Swap vinyl, feast on fancy foods and check out the Global Goods Bazaar. Peruse antiques or bring your own for appraisal.

## JUNE;

* FREE Maifest Chicago Thu 2, 5–9:30pm; Fri 3, 5–11pm; Sat 4, noon–11pm; Sun 5, noon–10pm. N Lincoln Ave at Leland Ave. El: Brown to Western. Bus: 11, 49, 49B. It wouldn’t be the Lincoln Square tradition without maypole dancing, the official keg tapping and the crowning of the queen. Retro rock bands the Polkaholics and the Captain Blood Orchestra headline.

FREE Chicago Eastside Millennium Art Festival Fri 3, noon–5pm; Sat 4, Sun 5, 10am–5pm. Lake St at Michigan Ave (847-926-4300). El: Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Clark/Lake; Red to Lake. Bus: 3, 4, 26, 66, 124, 143, 145, 147, 148, 151, 157. This third annual fest showcases ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry and other artworks by more than 150 juried artisans.

* Do Division Street Festival and Sidewalk Sale Sat 4, Sun 5, noon–10pm. Division St between Leavitt St and Ashland Ave (773-278-6600). El: Blue to Division. Bus: 9, 50, 70. $5. Sip on PBR and shop ten blocks of trendy boutiques and sidewalk vendors at this hipster-approved fest. Headliners include Big Freedia, Javelin, a Place to Bury Strangers and Omar Souleyman.

FREE 57th Street Art Fair Sat 4, 11am–6pm; Sun 5, 10am–5pm. 57th St between Kenwood and Kimbark Aves. Bus: 2, 15, 28, 172. The oldest juried art fair in Chicago has been dealing paintings, sculptures and jewelry since 1963.

June Jam Sat 4, Sun 5, noon–10pm. 3500 N Hoyne Ave (773-665-4682). El: Brown to Addison. Bus: 50, 152. $5. School feels like it’s out for the summer at this kid-friendly celebration held at Audubon Elementary School and the surrounding neighborhood.

Lake View Sausage Fest Sat 4, Sun 5, noon–10pm. 3600–3700 N Sheffield Ave (773-868-3010). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 22, 152. Before 5pm $5, after 5pm $7. Formerly known as the Lake View Music Fest, this neighborhood party still features live tunes and a view of Wrigley Field. This year, gorge on encased meat from some quality vendors.

Chicago Blues Festival 2011 Performers :

Uploaded by ChicagoCultureEvents on May 10, 2011
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FREE Chicago Blues Festival Fri 10–Sun 12, 11am–9:30pm. Grant Park, 300 S Columbus Dr (312-744-3316). El: Red to Monroe; Blue to Washington; Orange, Green, Pink, Purple (rush hrs), Brown to Randolph. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Get the blues all weekend long and feel good about it. This year, the largest free blues festival in the world celebrates the centennial birthday of Robert Johnson, the musician behind our city’s beloved anthem “Sweet Home Chicago.” David Honeyboy Edwards headlines.

FREE Fiesta Back of the Yards Fri 10, 5–10pm; Sat 11, Sun 12, 10am–10pm. 47th St at Damen Ave. Bus: 47, 48. Taco vendors, a carnival, and live entertainment from bands, DJs and Mexican performers give this fest a distinctive Latino flavor.

* Neon Marshmallow Music Festival Fri 10, 7:30pm–2am; Sat 11, 7:30pm–3am; Sun 12, 7:30pm–2am. Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western Ave (773-276-3600). Bus: 49, 66, 70. $25, three-day pass $70. Now in its second year, this hard-hitting experimental and electronic music party will melt your face. The lineup includes Morton Subotnick, Oneohtrix Point Never, Pelt and dozens more.

Party at St. Mike’s Fri 10, 5–10pm; Sat 11, 3–10pm; Sun 12, 2–9pm. St. Michael’s Church, 1633 N Cleveland Ave (312-337-1938). Bus: 11, 22, 72. $5. The quiet streets around 150-year-old St. Michael’s church in Old Town are transformed into a neighborhood festival complete with live music, beer and sangria, and local eateries.

Ribfest Chicago Fri 10, 5–10pm; Sat 11, Sun 12, noon–10pm. Lincoln Ave at Damen Ave and Irving Park Rd. El: Brown to Irving Park. Bus: 11, 50, 80. $5. This fest started as a neighborhood block party more than a decade ago and now hosts indie bands on two stages, a kids’ square and a rib cook-off. Bring extra wet wipes for Friday’s RibMania, which touts itself as the Midwest’s professional rib-eating contest.

* United Sounds of America: A Journey through Musical Roots Fri 10, Sat 11, 8pm; Sun 12, 7pm. Through Jun 18. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan Ave (312-294-3000). El: Blue, Red to Jackson; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Adams. Bus: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 26, 28, 126, 144, 145, 146, 147. $25–$70. Explore America’s musical landscape with a series of concerts featuring music originating from and inspired by New York City (Jun 10), Route 66 (Jun 11), New Orleans (Jun 12), Memphis (Jun 16), Detroit (Jun 17) and Austin (Jun 18). Famous musicians like Kurt Elling, Arlo Guthrie and Alejandro Escovedo will be your guides.

ArtsAlive! Sat 11, 3–10pm. 3800 block of N Kedvale Ave, adjacent to Disney II Magnet School. El: Blue to Irving Park. Metra: Union Pacific NW. Before 6pm $10, kids free; after 6pm $15. This kid-friendly fest features music, performances and hands-on activities.

FREE City Wilds Festival Sat 11, 10am–10pm; Sun 12, 10am–3pm. North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski Rd (312-744-5472). Bus: 53, 84. Staff and scientists help visitors explore plants and animals in the nature preserve. On Sunday, take part in music, storytelling and workshops.

Midsommarfest Sat 11, Sun 12, 11am–10pm. 5200 N Clark St at Foster Ave (773-665-4682). El: Red to Berwyn. Bus: 22, 92. $5. Take a dance around the maypole at Andersonville’s 46th annual celebration of traditional Nordic food, dance and entertainment.

Old Town Art Fair Sat 11, Sun 12, 10am–6pm. Lincoln Ave and Wisconsin St. Metra: 11, 22, 36, 76. $7, kids 12 and under free. This craft fair has been taking over Old Town for more than six decades, and it now exhibits the work of 260 artists. Meander through vendor booths, sample food from local eateries and listen to live music.

Wells Street Art Festival Sat 11, Sun 12, 10am–10pm. Wells St between North Ave and Division St (773-868-3010). El: Red to Clark/Division; Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Sedgwick. Bus: 9, 22, 36, 70, 72, 156. Before 5pm $7; after 5pm $10. More than 300 artisans display their wares at the 37th annual event, which also features live music from 10,000 Maniacs and other acts

Just for Laughs Tue 14–Sun 19. Various locations including the Chicago Theatre, 175 N State St. Prices vary. Back in Chicago for a third year, this TBS-sponsored fest ropes in comedy favorites like Demetri Martin, Joel McHale, George Lopez and Louis C.K. Check the fest’s website for exact showtimes and locations.

FREE Fiesta Puertorriqueñas Tue 14–Thu 16, 4–10pm; Fri 17, 4–11pm; Sat 18, 2–11pm; Sun 19, 2–10pm. Division St between Western Ave and Rockwell St. Bus: 49, 70. Come summer, the party in Humboldt Park never seems to end. The neighborhood’s fiesta season begins with one of the largest and lengthiest fests in Chicago. Originating in 1964, this celebration of Puerto Rican heritage includes performances by Latin entertainers, carnival rides, food and crafts vendors, and a parade on Saturday.

* FREE Grant Park Music Festival Wed 15, Fri 17 at 6:30pm; Sat 18 at 7:30pm; runs through Aug 20. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 205 E Randolph St (312-742-7638). El: Red to Monroe; Blue to Washington; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Randolph. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Drop a blanket and unpack the wine and cheese: The sounds of Grant Park Orchestra serenade the crowds on Pritzker Pavilion’s lawn. Expect good music and a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of finger batons. For classical-music purists, ticketed seats are also available.

* United Sounds of America: A Journey through Musical Roots Thu 16–Sat 18 at 8pm. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan Ave (312-294-3000). El: Blue, Red to Jackson; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Adams. Bus: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 26, 28, 126, 144, 145, 146, 147. $25–$70. Explore America’s musical landscape with a series of concerts featuring music originating from and inspired by New York City (Jun 10), Route 66 (Jun 11), New Orleans (Jun 12), Memphis (Jun 16), Detroit (Jun 17) and Austin (Jun 18). Famous musicians like Kurt Elling, Arlo Guthrie and Alejandro Escovedo will be your guides.

FREE Chicago Peace Fest Fri 17–Sun 19, noon–9pm. 1700 N Stockton Dr. Bus: 11, 22, 36, 73, 151, 156. Yeah brah, it’s like totally time to participate in light shows and drum circles and stuff. Listen to DJs and bands including Old Shoe and Malafacha.

Festa Pasta Vino Fri 17, 5–11pm; Sat 18, noon–11pm; Sun 19, noon–9pm. Oakley Ave at 24th St (630-962-7000). El: Pink to Western. Bus: 49, 60. $7, seniors $5, kids free. Watch as this neighborhood transforms into an Italian piazza, complete with Venetian performers and a full-scale replica of the Trevi Fountain. The three-day celebration serves up live entertainment and cuisine from local restos such as La Fontanella, Bacchanalia and Ignotz’s.

* Taste of Randolph Street Fri 17, 5–11pm; Sat 18, Sun 19, 2–11pm. 900–1200 W Randolph St (773-665-4682). El: Green, Pink to Ashland. $10. Eat your way through six blocks of trendy West Loop restaurants. The festival often showcases a stellar lineup of national indie bands.

Custer’s Last Stand Festival of the Arts Sat 18, Sun 19, 10am–9pm. Main St and Chicago Ave, Evanston (847-328-2204). El: Purple to Main. Bus: 205. $1. Named after Custer Avenue, the street where it started 39 years ago, this Evanston fest offers arts and crafts, a North American Indian Pow-Wow and an eco-village.

6 Corners BBQ Fest Sat 18, noon–10pm; Sun 19, noon–8pm. 4000–4080 N Milwaukee Ave (773-685-9300). Bus: 54, 54A, 56, 80. $5. At this Portage Park neighborhood cookout (which celebrates the end of construction in the area), families can check out rock and country music, a reptile show, and WWE wrestlers.

* FREE Grant Park Music Festival Wed 22, Fri 24 at 6:30pm; Sat 25 at 7:30pm. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 205 E Randolph St (312-742-7638). El: Red to Monroe; Blue to Washington; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Randolph. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Drop a blanket and unpack the wine and cheese: The sounds of Grant Park Orchestra serenade the crowds on Pritzker Pavilion’s lawn. Expect good music and a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of finger batons. For classical-music purists, ticketed seats are also available.

Bloomington Gold Corvette Show Thu 23–Sun 26, 7am–5pm. Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E Main St, St. Charles (309-888-4477). $15–$40. Check out the sweet rides at the “Granddaddy of Corvette Shows.” The show features a contest for best classic Vette, vendors and a collector car show.

Chicago Pride Fest Fri 24, 3–10pm; Sat 25, 11am–10pm. Halsted St at Waveland Ave (773-868-3010). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 8, 36, 152. Before 5pm $7; after 5pm $10. Music, costumes and female impersonators will rule Halsted Street during this gay festival, which leads up to the annual Pride Parade on Sunday.

FREE Taste of Chicago Fri 24–Jul 3, 11am–8:30pm. Columbus Dr from Balbo Dr to Monroe Dr. El: Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Adams; Blue, Red to Jackson. Bus: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 26, 28, 126, 145, 146, 147. This year, the City of Chicago passed off Taste to the Chicago Park District. Other big changes: Celtic, Gospel, Country and Viva! festivals have been rolled into the behemoth celebration. Foodwise, it’s business as usual; Buy 12 tickets for $8 (discounts available at Dominick’s). Break out your pants with the elastic waistband, and make room for bites from dozens of vendors.

Chicago Summerfest Sat 25, noon–10pm; Sun 26, noon–9pm. 2045 N Lincoln Park West (773-665-4682). Bus: 11, 22, 36, 73, 151, 156. $5. After getting your fill of live music, food, drinks and artist vendors, you can take a guided architecture and history tour of the neighborhood.

Fountain Square Art Festival Sat 25, Sun 26, 10am–6pm. Sherman Ave and Church St, Evanston (773-868-3010). El: Purple to Davis. Bus: Pace 201, Pace 205. Metra: Union Pacific N to Davis. $5. Check out crafts from more than 225 artisans at this Evanston street festival.

* Green Music Fest Sat 25, Sun 26, noon–10pm. Damen Ave between North Ave and Schiller St (312-850-9390). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72. $5. Grab your reusable tote and buy the latest ecofriendly products at this fest, which takes place at a new Wicker Park location. Yo La Tengo, Les Savy Fav and the Thermals provide the soundtrack, courtesy of biodiesel generators.

## June 27–July 4;

UPDATE - There will be no city-run July 3rd or July 4th fireworks show this year: That means Chicago’s only official fireworks will be the previously scheduled show at 9 p.m. July 4 at Navy Pier. That 15-minute show is paid for by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.
FREE Taste of Chicago Mon 27–Sat 2, 11am–8:30pm; Sun 3, 11am–6pm. Columbus Dr from Balbo Dr to Monroe Dr. El: Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Adams; Blue, Red to Jackson. Bus: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 26, 28, 126, 145, 146, 147. This year, the City of Chicago passed off Taste to the Chicago Park District. Other big changes: Celtic, Gospel, Country and Viva! festivals have been rolled into the behemoth celebration. Foodwise, it’s business as usual; Buy 12 tickets for $8 (discounts available at Dominick’s). Break out your pants with the elastic waistband, and make room for bites from dozens of vendors.

Taste of Lombard Thu 30, Fri 1, 5–11pm; Sat 2, Sun 3, noon–11pm. Through Jul 4. Madison Meadows Park, Madison St at Lewis Ave, Lombard. $3, kids 9 and under free. Live entertainment, a carnival, and a slew of local restaurants and food vendors round out this fest in the West Suburbs.

African Caribbean International Festival of Life Fri 1–Jul 4, noon–10pm. Washington Park, 55th St and Cottage Grove Ave (312-427-0266). El: Green to Garfield. Bus: 2, 4, 55, 171, 172. Before 5pm $10, after 5pm $15, kids $5. This year, Caribbean Festival joins forces with the International Festival of Life. Sounds even yummier. Get together and feel all right at this South Side celebration of life, music and health awareness. Take in food, arts and crafts, and live reggae and calypso beats.

Chicago Botanic Garden Art Festival Fri 1–Sun 3, 10am–5pm. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake-Cook Rd, Glencoe (847-835-5440). Metra: Union Pacific N to Braeside. Parking $20. For these artisans, there’s room to grow: Botanic-themed or plant-made paintings, jewelry and photography are on sale at the fest. Artist demos and family activities are also on tap.

Eyes to the Skies Festival Fri 1, 1–11pm; Sat 2, Sun 3, 11am–11pm. Lisle Community Park, 1825 Short St, Lisle (630-964-3410). Metra: Burlington/Santa Fe to Lisle. $5, kids under 5 free. Hot-air balloons take to the sky daily at 6am and 6pm and grounded balloons fire up nightly around 8:30pm. Stay for the carnival, craft fair, kids’ area, fireworks, food and live music each night.

* Naperville Ribfest Fri 1–Jul 4, noon–10pm. Knoch Park, 700 S West St, Naperville. Metra: Burlington/Santa Fe to Naperville. $12, kids under 11 free. For more than two decades, this pork party has been serving up grilled grub and rock- and country-flavored tunes. This year, headliners include Montgomery Gentry, REO Speedwagon and Styx.

African Caribbean International Festival of Life Mon 4, noon–10pm. Washington Park, 55th St and Cottage Grove Ave (312-427-0266). El: Green to Garfield. Bus: 2, 4, 55, 171, 172. Before 5pm $10, after 5pm $15, kids $5. This year, Caribbean Festival joins forces with the International Festival of Life. Sounds even yummier. Get together and feel all right at this South Side celebration of life, music and health awareness. Take in food, arts and crafts, and live reggae and calypso beats.

FREE Fourth of July Fireworks Mon 4 at 9pm. Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave. El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 29, 65, 66 . With the City of Chicago canning its big fireworks show, Navy Pier is Independence Day central. A patriotic soundtrack plays as fireworks erupt overhead.

* Glen Ellyn’s Fourth of July Fireworks Mon 4 at 1pm. Lake Ellyn Park, 645 Lenox Rd, Glen Ellyn. Metra: Union Pacific W to Glen Ellyn. 1–4pm $2, fireworks free. Independence Day festivities begin in Glen Ellyn with a parade at noon, carnival games from 1–4pm and fireworks at dusk.

FREE Itasca’s Fantastic Fireworks Mon 4, 4–11pm. Hamilton Lakes Office Campus, Park Blvd at Thorndale Ave, Itasca (630-773-0835). Independence Day goes off with a bang at one of Illinois’s largest fireworks displays. The live music starts around 6pm; fireworks commence around 9:30pm.

Lake Forest Festival & Fireworks Mon 4, 3–10pm. Deerpath Park, Deerpath Rd at Hastings Rd, Lake Forest (773-868-3010). Metra: Union Pacific N to Lake Forest. $10, kids 5 and under free. Rick Springfield headlines this suburban fireworks festival.

* Naperville Ribfest Mon 4, noon–10pm. Knoch Park, 700 S West St, Naperville. Metra: Burlington/Santa Fe to Naperville. $12, kids under 11 free. For more than two decades, this pork party has been serving up grilled grub and rock- and country-flavored tunes. This year, headliners include Montgomery Gentry, REO Speedwagon and Styx.

Taste of Lombard Mon 4, noon–11pm. Madison Meadows Park, Madison St at Lewis Ave, Lombard. $3, kids 9 and under free. Live entertainment, a carnival, and a slew of local restaurants and food vendors round out this fest in the West Suburbs.


* FREE Grant Park Music Festival Wed 6, Fri 8 at 6:30pm; Sat 9 at 7:30pm. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 205 E Randolph St (312-742-7638). El: Red to Monroe; Blue to Washington; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Randolph. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Drop a blanket and unpack the wine and cheese: The sounds of Grant Park Orchestra serenade the crowds on Pritzker Pavilion’s lawn. Expect good music and a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of finger batons. For classical-music purists, ticketed seats are also available.

FREE Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club Family Fest Wed 6–Fri 8, 6–11pm; Sat 9, Sun 10, 2–11pm. 3900 N Rockwell St. Bus: 80. This benefit for the Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club youth programs boasts carnival rides, live music, food and a beer garden.

* FREE Chicago SummerDance Thu 7–Sept 18. Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S Michigan Ave. El: Red to Harrison. Bus: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 26, 28, 126, 145, 146, 147. Kick up your heels at this annual series of couples dances Thursday through Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. For the first hour of each event, a professional instructor conducts dance lessons. After that, let the world (or, at least, Grant Park) see your skills during live music and dancing sessions.

Cans Music Fest Fri 8, Sat 9, 5–11pm. Damen Ave at Concord Pl (773-227-2277). El: Blue to Damen. Metra: 50, 56, 72. $5. If you’re down with O.P.P., get to this festival. On Saturday, Naughty by Nature headlines.

FREE Chicago Tribune North Michigan Avenue Arts Fest Fri 8, Sat 9, 10am–6pm; Sun 10, 10am–5pm. Pioneer Court, 435 N Michigan Ave (561-746-6615). El: Red to Grand. Bus: 2, 3, 10, 26, 66, 120, 121, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 151, 157. Cruise the Mag Mile, but not for fashion. This three-day fest hawks art from more than 300 juried artists.

Irish American Heritage Festival Fri 8, 6pm–midnight; Sat 9, noon–midnight; Sun 10, noon–11pm. Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N Knox Ave (773-282-7035). El: Blue to Montrose. Bus: 54, 78. $14, seniors $7, kids 12 and under free. Dance a jig to live bands, including Gaelic Storm, the Tossers and Scythian. Enter a mashed-potato-eating contest or a singing contest, or hope for the luck of the Irish at the Hooley hook-up matchmaking event.

* Chicago Folk & Roots Festival Sat 9, Sun 10, noon–10pm. Welles Park, 4400 N Lincoln Ave (773-728-6000). El: Brown to Western. Bus: 11, 49, 78. $10, kids and seniors $5. Get folksy at this annual world-music fete, organized by Old Town School of Folk Music. The lineup includes Baloji, Maracs, Rosie Flores & Friends, and Delbert McClinton. Learn everything from the hula to the rhumba in the dance tent. Little ones can make music in the kids’ tent.

* Chicago Ice Cream Festival Sat 9, noon–5pm; Sun 10, noon–7pm. Ravenswood Event Center, 4011 N Ravenswood Ave (773-388-2170). El: Brown to Irving Park. Bus: 9, 80. $15, kids $10. Scream for ice cream at this micro-creamery celebration. The fest features tastings, chef battles, homemade ice-cream workshops and book signings.

FREE Gold Coast Art Fair Sat 9, Sun 10, 9am–7pm. Butler Field, Grant Park, 100 S Lake Shore Dr (847-926-4300). El: Red to Jackson; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Adams. Bus: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 26, 28, 126, 144, 145, 146, 147. Grant Park plays host to this 54th annual event, which showcases the work of more than 350 juried artists.

Roscoe Village Burger Fest Sat 9, Sun 10, 11am–10pm. Belmont Ave at Damen Ave (773-868-3010). El: Brown to Paulina. Bus: 50, 77. $5 before 5pm, $7 after 5pm. Even vegetarians will find their perfect patty at this North Side neighborhood fest featuring local restos and live music from Foghat, the Smithereens, Todd Carey, Divebar, Canasta, Arra and School of Rock.

* West Fest Sat 9, Sun 10, noon–10pm. Chicago Ave between Wood St and Damen Ave (312-850-9390). Bus: 66, 50. $5. Stroll down Chicago Avenue for this West Town festival, and you’ll find a solid lineup of music.

Halsted Tastes Better Mon 11, 6–9pm. Halsted St and Aldine St (773-883-0500). El: Red, Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Belmont. Bus: 8, 77, 152. $35, advance $25. Feast on delicacies from local restos, listen to live jazz and cheer on your favorite server at the Waiter’s Race. Price includes food and drink tickets.

* FREE Grant Park Music Festival Wed 13, Fri 15 at 6:30pm; Sat 16 at 7:30pm. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 205 E Randolph St (312-742-7638). El: Red to Monroe; Blue to Washington; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Randolph. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Drop a blanket and unpack the wine and cheese: The sounds of Grant Park Orchestra serenade the crowds on Pritzker Pavilion’s lawn. Expect good music and a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of finger batons. For classical-music purists, ticketed seats are also available.

Bastille Day 5K Run, Walk & Block Party Thu 14, 7:30–10pm. Cannon Dr and Fullerton Ave (773-868-3010). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 22, 151, 156. $30–$37; block party only $5. After you break a sweat in the 5K, cool down at the block party, which starts at 8:30pm at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N Cannon Dr). The party celebrates all things French with food, live music and cabaret. Proceeds benefit the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.

BenFest Fri 15, 4–11pm; Sat 16, 4–11pm. St. Benedict’s Parish, 2215 W Irving Park Rd (773-588-6484). El: Brown to Addison. Bus: 11, 49, 80. Before 8pm $5, after 8pm $10. The folks at St. Benedict throw this bash each year to benefit their schools and parish. Chow down on food, listen to bands, and register for the $10,000 raffle. Dot Dot Dot headlines.

Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party Fri 15, Sat 16, 5:30–10:30pm. Madison St at Des Plaines St (312-648-1590). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 14, 20, 56. $45, advance $40, two-day pass $70. This jammy singles-friendly fest boasts that it has brought together several sets of spouses over nearly three decades. Price includes five beverages.

* Pitchfork Music Festival Fri 15, 3–10pm; Sat 16, Sun 17, noon–10pm. Union Park, 1501 W Randolph St (312-742-7529). El: Green, Pink to Ashland. Bus: 9. $45 per day. Join throngs of indie-music fans descending on Union Park for this Chicago tradition. This year, headliners include Animal Collective, Neko Case, Fleet Foxes and TV on the Radio.

Taste of River North Fri 15, 5–10pm; Sat 16, noon–10pm; Sun 17, 11am–6pm. Kingsbury St at Erie St. El: Blue to Grand. Bus: 8, 66. $5. The Chicago riverfront serves as the backdrop for this festival of neighborhood restaurants, art galleries and merchants. Walk or take a water taxi to the fest, which also includes activities for kids and pets and a lineup of live bands.

Windy City Ribfest in Uptown Fri 15, 4–10pm; Sat 16, Sun 17, noon–10pm. Lawrence Ave at Broadway (773-868-3010). El: Red to Lawrence. Bus: 36, 81. $5. Give up trying to keep your hands clean. Embrace the saucy mess at this third annual Uptown fest. Performers include Rusted Root, Georgie Porgie and Linda Clifford.

Edgewater Arts Festival Sat 16, 11am–6pm. 5917 N Broadway. El: Red to Thorndale. Bus: 36, 136, 147, 151. Donation TBA. Live music accompanies a selection of fine art, and local arts and crafts for sale.

FREE Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival Sat 16, Sun 17, noon–7pm. Dawes Park, Sheridan Rd at Church St, Evanston. El: Purple to Davis. Bus: 93, 205. Several nations are represented at this feel-good multiculti fest showcasing music, dance, food and visual arts from around the world.

Lincoln Park Arts & Music Festival Sat 16, noon–10pm; Sun 17, noon–9pm. Racine Ave between Fullerton and Webster Aves (773-868-3010). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 11, 74. $5. This third annual festival showcases nearly 100 artists, accompanied by live music and food vendors.

Sound System Block Party Sat 16, noon–10pm. Milwaukee Ave at Evergreen Ave (773-278-7130). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56. $5. Hosted by the Silver Room, this dance-heavy party celebrates art, music, bike fashion and deejayed music.

FREE Chinatown Summer Fair Sun 17, 10am–8pm. Wentworth Ave and Cermak Rd (773-868-3010). El: Red to Cermak/Chinatown. Bus: 21, 62. Celebrate Chinese culture with a parade, arts and crafts, and, of course, food.

Dearborn Garden Walk Sun 17, noon–5pm. Enter at Latin Lower School, 1531 N Dearborn St (312-632-1241). Bus: 9, 11, 22, 36, 72, 73. $35, advance $30. Learn to walk the walk of residents in fancy Dearborn Parkway graystones. Tour more than 20 private gardens and listen to live jazz and classical music.

FREE Festival of the Lakes Wed 20, Thu 21, 5–11pm; Fri 22, noon–11pm; Sat 23, 7am–11pm; Sun 24, 8am–11pm. Wolf Lake Memorial Park, 2938 S Calumet Ave, Hammond, IN (219-853-6378). This lake-centric fest 30 miles south of Chicago features music, a carnival and food vendors.

* FREE Grant Park Music Festival Wed 20, Fri 22 at 6:30pm; Sat 23 at 7:30pm. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 205 E Randolph St (312-742-7638). El: Red to Monroe; Blue to Washington; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Randolph. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Drop a blanket and unpack the wine and cheese: The sounds of Grant Park Orchestra serenade the crowds on Pritzker Pavilion’s lawn. Expect good music and a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of finger batons. For classical-music purists, ticketed seats are also available.

Kane County Fair Wed 20, Thu 21, noon–11pm; Fri 22, Sat 23, noon–midnight; Sun 24, noon–10pm. Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S Randall Rd, St. Charles (630-584-6926). $5–$8. This old-fashioned county fair offers a carnival, a petting zoo, a rodeo and tons of fried food.

* Celebrate Clark Street Sat 23, 1–11pm; Sun 24, 1–10pm. Clark St between Morse and Touhy Aves (773-508-5885). El: Red to Morse. Bus: 22, 155. Metra: Union Pacific N to Rogers Park. $5, family $10. Rogers Park celebrates diversity with live world music, food, art and jewelry. Former HotHouse manager David Chavez always creates a stellar lineup of global sounds.

Sheffield Garden Walk & Festival Sat 23, Sun 24, noon–10pm. Webster St at Sheffield Ave (773-929-9255). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 8, 11, 74. $10, before 3pm $7. Tour nearly 100 resident gardens in the historic Sheffield neighborhood. Stop by the Kids Corner from noon–5pm, eat from local restaurants and listen to folky bands.

* Wicker Park Fest Sat 23, Sun 24, noon–10pm. Milwaukee Ave between North Ave and Wood St (773-384-2672). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72. $5. Beginning at the diagonal intersection known as the Crotch, Wicker Park Fest stretches along Milwaukee Avenue. Hipster-friendly acts include Wild Flag, Wavves, Blitzen Trapper, Joe Pug and Flosstradamus.

DuPage County Fair Wed 27–Sun 31, 8am–10pm. DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Rd, Wheaton (630-668-6636). $8, kids ages 3–12 $3, kids 2 and under free. Funnel cakes, demolition derbies, monster truck races and pop stars abound at this annual county fair. Entertainment admission ticketed separately.

* FREE Grant Park Music Festival Wed 27, Fri 29 at 6:30pm; Sat 30 at 7:30pm. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 205 E Randolph St (312-742-7638). El: Red to Monroe; Blue to Washington; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Randolph. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Drop a blanket and unpack the wine and cheese: The sounds of Grant Park Orchestra serenade the crowds on Pritzker Pavilion’s lawn. Expect good music and a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of finger batons. For classical-music purists, ticketed seats are also available.

FREE Fiesta del Sol Thu 28, 5–10pm; Fri 29, Sat 30, 11am–11pm; Sun 31, 11am–10pm. 1400 W Cermak Rd between Loomis and Morgan Sts. Bus: 9, 21, 60. One of the largest Latino fests in the Midwest, this Pilsen celebration features carnival rides, live music and local art.

* FREE Newberry Library Book Fair and Bughouse Square Debates Thu 28, Fri 29, noon–8pm; Sat 30, Sun 31, 10am–6pm. Newberry Library, 60 W Walton St (312-255-3556). El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 22, 36, 70, 147, 156. This is one for the books. Choose from thousands of used publications for purchase. On Saturday afternoon (1–4pm), watch rabble-rousers take to their soapboxes during the Bughouse Square Debates.

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival Fri 29, 4–11pm; Sat 30, Sun 31, noon–11pm. Milwaukee Ave between Washtenaw and Dawson Aves (773-278-4257). El: Blue to California, Logan Square. Bus: 52, 56, 74, 76. $5. Nearly two miles of Milwaukee Avenue are curated with pop-up galleries, three stages of live music, performance art and family activities.

* FREE Pierogi Fest Fri 29, Sat 30, 11am–10pm; Sun 31, 11am–5pm. 119th St at Indianapolis Blvd, Whiting, IN (219-659-0292). Head out for a weekend of dumpling adoration and polka passion. In addition to watching dozens of Whiting denizens decked out in pierogi costumes, you can chow down on pierogi, compete in the Pierogi Toss and enter the Pierogi Eating Contest.

* Ghana Fest Sat 30, 11am–10pm. Washington Park, 5600 Russell Dr. Bus: 4, 55. Metra: Green to Garfield. $10. Learn about the Ghanian traditional harvest and fill your plate with yummy regional cuisine.

Summer on Southport Sat 30, 11am–10pm; Sun 31, 11am–9pm. 3700 N Southport Ave (773-665-4682). El: Brown to Southport. Bus: 9, 152. $5. In addition to hosting the tenth annual Children’s Festival (rock wall, mini golf, face painting and more), this fest offers entertainment and dining for grown-ups.

Taste of Lincoln Avenue Sat 30, noon–10pm; Sun 31, 11am–10pm. Lincoln Ave between Fullerton and Wrightwood Aves (773-868-3010). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 8, 11, 74. $7–$10. Sample food from local vendors along Lincoln Avenue, then shop for handmade goods at the Lill Street Craft Fair. Toad the Wet Sprocket, Sister Hazel and Carbon Leaf will perform.


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