Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Illinois aims to fix poor record of serving people with developmental disabilities

From HOI-19 TV station:

Illinois ranks dead last in total dollars allocated for community living services for people with developmental disabilities.

That means some people living with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities may eventually have to live in institutions if their families can't care for them.

But a new report from the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities aims to reform the system.

Supporters of the seven-year "blueprint" says it focuses more on community-based living and eliminating the 11,000 person waiting list.

“We'd like to support families as long as they want to stay together and not wait until a crisis to offer them support,” said Sheila Romano of the ICDD. “We believe we've set a course where we can serve more people and do it more cost efficiently to the state.”

Illinois institutionalizes more people than any other state.

Holly Roos has two children with fragile x syndrome and the last thing she wants is for either of them to live in a state institution.

“When I'm no longer able to care for him, it doesn't matter how much I can get him in the community and how much I can help him be productive,” Roos said. “If there’s not somebody to help him when I'm gone, what’s going to happen to him?”

Among other things, the report urges the state to strengthen the existing system by adequately funding services and expanding community-based supports in place of existing state run institutions.