CONTACT: Lena Parsons, for Access Living

Advocates see Developmental Center Vote as Setback--FOR NOW

Encouraged by Governor’s pledge to build capacity for community services

(Chicago) – Access Living today reacted with dismay at the recommendation of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability to keep open the Jacksonville Developmental Center. Illinois institutionalizes people with disabilities at one of the highest rates in the country, funneling a disproportionate number of resources into institutional supports versus community supports. Despite demand from thousands of people statewide currently in institutions to live in apartments or smaller settings, despite the fact that people with disabilities have a civil right to live in the community, despite the fact that community–based services cost less money than institutional services, and despite being handed an opportunity to improve Illinois' institutional service record, the commission voted seven to four against closure.

“We are disappointed at the vote given our investment in the importance of disability rights and community living,” said Amber Smock, Access Living's Director of Advocacy. “We saw the closure of Jacksonville as the perfect kickoff point to reform our state's support system for people with developmental disabilities to offer people with disabilities. We are however encouraged by the state's development of a long term plan along with a funding package. Fourteen other states have closed all of their state operated facilities for people with developmental disabilities and it is time for Illinois to close its institutions.”

In early September, Governor Quinn announced the closure of two state run institutions for people with developmental disabilities, the Mabley Developmental Center and the Jacksonville Developmental Center. The commission recommended that both institutions remain open; however, commission members strongly supported the development of a plan to transition more people into the community.

The commission's recommendation comes just two days after Governor Quinn released a new eleventh–hour initiative to begin to rebalance Illinois' system of long–term care services for people with disabilities. The proposal lays out a plan to close four of the eight developmental centers by 2014, and to transition 600 people with disabilities from institutions into community settings. “It was time for closure of our state's institutions back in 1999 when the
U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Olmstead decision. We are long overdue for a coherent effort to comply with both the language and the spirit of Olmstead . Our expectation is that this new long term plan will be meaningful, funded well, and gather the input of community partners,” Smock said.

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 a leading force in the community. Committed to challenging stereotypes, protecting civil rights and breaking institutional and community barriers, Access Living is a nationally recognized change agent at the forefront of the disability rights movement.



Established in 1980, Access Living is a change agent committed to fostering an inclusive society that enables Chicagoans with disabilities to live fully–engaged and self–directed lives. Nationally recognized as a leading force in the disability advocacy community, Access Living challenges stereotypes, protects civil rights and champions social reform.