Representative Harris called for the hearing in the same month as Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed an Executive Order “to increase state oversight of investigations into the deaths of adults with disabilities.” The Executive Order states that "immediate improvements must be made" regarding the documentation and investigation of deaths of people with disabilities when abuse and neglect is suspected. The executive order pertains to people with disabilities living alone in residences or with a family member or caregiver, or in an unlicensed community-based facility. Separate oversight mechanisms already exist for settings not considered “domestic living settings,” such as nursing homes, life care facilities, governmental facilities, hospitals, Community Integrated Livings Arrangements (CILAs), and licensed community living facilities.
Access Living applauded the announcement from the Governor. "We urge DHS to act immediately in compliance with the Governor's order," said Amber Smock, Access Living’s Director of Advocacy. “We urge the state to ensure that OIG has the resources to staff and fund investigations of these deaths so that Illinois can learn how to better empower all people with disabilities living in the community because that is what they choose.”
As a center for independent living, Access Living advocates and organizes for the right and opportunity of people with disabilities to live independently outside of institutional settings and in their own homes and communities. In order to live in the community successfully, people with and without disabilities need adequate and quality supports. Governor Quinn’s Executive Order provides another layer of support for people with disabilities. "People with disabilities, just like all human beings, deserve peace of mind in knowing that they are safe at home,” Smock continued. “Fear that our homes may not be safe can lead to unnecessary and unwanted institutionalization."
At the public hearing on July 31, Access Living will stress the importance of offering people with disabilities the choice to live in community based settings rather than institutions, and the importance of investing in quality community-based supports and planning in order that people with disabilities live independent, healthy, and productive lives in the community. Access Living will also stress the importance of a working OIG oversight system to resolve complaints involving neglect and abuse.
Established in 1980, Access Living is a non-profit, Chicago-based disability rights and service organization that provides individualized, peer-based services for people with disabilities. With a strong influence in public policy and social reform, Access Living is committed to challenging stereotypes, protecting civil rights and breaking institutional and community barriers.