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Friday, May 15, 2015

Close antiquated Illinois developmental centers to save money: Letter to the Editor

as appeared in The State Journal-Register | May 14, 2015

The Arc of Illinois congratulates Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to do the right thing and restore important state grants to disability services, including The Autism Program and The Arc's Illinois Life Span Program.

The Life Span Program, known as the "411" of disability services, has been in existence to families for over 14 years. Last year we assisted more than 15,000 requests from families seeking advocacy and information resources. 

The disability system in Illinois is extremely institutionalized and costly. Illinois spends $428 million a year segregating 1,730 individuals in seven fully operational state developmental centers. That works out to about $250,000 per year per person. The Arc is calling for the closure of six of the seven developmental centers. 

It is time to reinvest into our community system to support infants, children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, allowing them to keep their families intact and, as they age, supporting them to remain close to family and friends. 

There is waste in the disability system, but it is not in community services. We call upon Rauner to continue to do the right thing for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, as well as for Illinois taxpayers. He should close those six antiquated state institutions. 

Everyone can live a rich and fulfilling life in the community with proper supports.

Tony Paulauski
The writer is executive director of The Arc of Illinois.


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