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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Illinois Budget Impasse as more families losing services for children with disabilities

DIXON, Ill. – Respite care and autism funding are enduring major cuts because of the Illinois budget crisis.

report by By Courtney Yuen for KWQC tv6 | Feb 17, 2016

Providers in our area said local families are losing services to care for children with disabilities.

“I think all of legislators and the governor needs to know that they’re talking about numbers and budgets and we’re talking about things that really affect people’s lives,” said executive director of Kreider Services Jeff Stauter.

Over 60 years ago, Kreider Services was started by a group of parents who didn’t want to put their children with disabilities in state institutions.

Today, they serve hundreds of people from infants to seniors each day.

“You want them to have their own life, to live as independently as they can and with these cuts and people not adding new beds to residential services, those dreams go away,” said Stauter.

He said they’ve lost $175,000 in autism funding and another $150,000 cut for respite care.

“Those services probably aren’t coming back anytime soon,” said Stauter.

They’ve had to layoff employees and close three group homes.

“We’ve become lean and mean given the resources the state gives us,” he said.

Toni McGuire is a single, working mother of two teens with Asperger’s syndrome. She lost respite care because of lack of funding last year.

“I’m at work, but I’m always wondering… are the kids getting what they need?” she said.

McGuire said with respite, she had peace-of-mind knowing her kids had a caretaker while she was at work.

“My son has a seizure disorder because of his autism, the neurons don’t fire correctly in his brain,” she said. “Now he gets off the bus at 2:30 p.m. so he’s not with someone who could help him if a had a seizure, until 4:30 p.m. when I get home from work, so that’s stressful that adds more anxiety.”

Jeff Hoak’s son Jacob has been coming to Kreider for 10 years now…

“I love it,” said Jacob. “Make money and stuff.”

Jeff said Jacob has flourished over the years. Cuts haven’t affected them yet, but they’re worried it eventually could.

“Kind of like with people with kids without disabilities…it’s kind of like saying well we’re just not going to have school anymore,” he said. “We’re not going to send you to school.”

“It’s time for our elected officials in Springfield to get their act together and come up with a budget,” said Stauter. “We don’t particularly care who wins because we’re all losing.”

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