CONTACT: Lena Parsons, for Access Living

Access Living applauds Governor Quinn’s closure announcement

Urges shift from institutional to community support for people with disabilities

Access Living applauds Governor Quinn’s January 19 announcement to close the Jacksonville Developmental Center. “We are thrilled that Governor Quinn is kicking off 2012 by following up on his 2011 commitment to community choice for people with developmental disabilities,” said Amber Smock, Access Living’s Director of Advocacy. In late 2011, Governor Quinn unveiled a proposal to close four of the eight Illinois developmental centers by 2014, and to transition 600 people with developmental disabilities from institutions into community settings.

The transition of people with disabilities out of institutions and into their own homes with community supports has been one of the top national disability advocacy issues for 20 years. Despite demand from thousands of people to live in apartments or smaller settings, Illinois still institutionalizes people with developmental disabilities at one of the highest rates in the country, even though they have a civil right to live in the community and community-based settings cost less money than institutional services.

“It was time for closure of our state’s institutions back in 1999 when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Olmstead decision. Nevertheless, we applaud Governor Quinn’s new policy of moving people out of institutions, and back into communities. We look forward to partnering with Governor Quinn and the disability community to ensure that this long term plan for institution closure is meaningful, well funded, and includes the input of community partners. Ultimately, the goal is maximizing independence. Even the smallest choices matter to all of us as humans,” Smock said.

The Governor also announced the closure of Tinley Park Mental Health Center. In contrast to Jacksonville Developmental Center, Tinley Park MHC is not a long term care setting, but rather a short term acute care facility serving people in crisis. Access Living urges the state to carefully explore options for mental health crisis acute care centers and ensure that people on Medicaid will receive the same or better quality access to supports.

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. For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199 voice,


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.