Because Governor Pat Quinn announced Wednesday, the day after the McHenry County 377 Board referendum to impose a tax to fund $9 million in services for the Developmentally Disabled, McHenry C0unty Blog is running the following article published on June 14, 2011.
Woodstock Sheltered Village Resident Wins Federal Class Action Lawsuit for Less Restrictive Living Arrangements
Back in the 1990’s I was on the House Appropriations Committee before which the budget of the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities came.
When Governor George Ryan took office, he named a former Director of McHenry County’s Pioneer Center, Ann Patla, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Each year I had asked the percentage of the budget going to state institutions and the percentage to community groups.
The bureaucracy, AFSCME union and its Democratic Party legislators wanted the money to keep flowing to state developmentally disabilities institutions.
Jobs for state employees were the main priority, not caring for those institutionalized in what might be characterized as the most restrictive location.
Ryan’s Director was the first to propose a budget with a majority going to community care.
Now I see in the Chicago Tribune that a suit with its lead plaintiff, Stanley Lilgas, living in Sheltered Village’s 96-bed facility in Woodstock, has won a 2005 lawsuit to allow him to move to a less restrictive place to live.
Progress has been made. One of two Tribune articles on the suit reports that most of the money no longer goes to AFSCME-organized state institutions.
But Illinois is still a backwards state.
States like Alaska and Vermont have 98% of their people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in settings of six or fewer.
Illinois ranks 50th (out of 51) with 38% in such community settings.
Blame it on the public employee union and politicians supporting them.
One source quoted in this article says it costs $55,000 a year to support an individual in a group home, but $192,000 in a state institution.
Part of the reason is undoubtedly that those working in group homes are paid much less than state employees.
Part of the problem is that parents of adults who need support or supervision of one sort or another are getting older.
When I was still in office, I would get calls pleading for help when a parent would be in failing health.
They had spent their lives making sure their children were cared for as well as they could, but were at a loss as to what to do as they became unable to continue such care.
Sometimes a phone call would help.
Sometimes there were no openings.
McHenry County’s mental health tax has long been a magnet for such families. Parents know their children are more likely to receive appropriate care here than elsewhere.
Now, as University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Mary Kay Rizzolo puts it, Illinois will have to “either reallocate money that is going to state-operated developmental centers or come up with new funding for community support services,” the Tribune reports.
In a state with as many financial problems as Illinois, the cost-reducing mandate of the Federal court should be a no-brainer.
It’s not only the compassionate thing to do, it is the way to save money.
When I was running against Rod Blagojevich for Governor in 2002, Blagojevich attached Governor Ryan’s proposal to close the Lincoln DD Center.
Ryan was acting logically, while Blagojevich was acting politically.
Votes over cost savings.
Votes over the best interests of the clients.