New Report Identifies Gaps And Inefficient Utilization Of Resources For Illinois’ Developmentally Disabled Initiatives

On Thursday, February 14, the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities hosted a news conference to announce the release of two reports that analyze gaps in services to people with developmental disabilities and that propose recommendations for addressing the gaps. Below is the news report that was released in conjunction with the event.

The following news item is from the Illinois Department on Developmental Disabilities


Seven-Year ‘Blueprint’ Outlines Goals for Providing Developmentally Disabilities Community Toward Individualized, Efficient and Cost-Effective Supports

Chicago– Illinois – the land of Lincoln – is a state proud of its reputation for leading the way on important American principles of independence, freedom and the truth that “all men are created equal.” Yet, a report released today reveals the state’s unreliable track record on its residents with developmental disabilities does not provide the same equality and freedom that other citizens are afforded.

In fact, Illinois (ranked 47th) continues to lag behind nearly every other state in total dollars allocated for community living services for people with developmental disabilities. The new report, Blueprint for System Redesign in Illinois, also confirms the need for an overhaul of the current support system serving people with developmental disabilities.

“Persons with developmental disabilities have spoken up again and again about their dreams, hopes and abilities – and when they’re supported by a state that believes anything is possible, each person can realize their personal best,” said Lester Pritchard, chairperson of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, the state agency that funded the research. “But, they can’t achieve their goals in a state that separates them from society, places limitations on their opportunities and consistently holds them to a low level of expectation.”

The report, provided by the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), identified key issues in need of change and offered an action plan that could be realistically executed statewide over a seven-year period. The report urges the state to strengthen the existing community services system by adequately funding services, expanding community-based supports in place of existing state run institutions, improving certain infrastructures and implementing individual budget allocation practices.

The most important steps to redesigning the current system for the more than 150,000 people with developmental disabilities served in Illinois are:

1. Eliminate the wait list of more than 11,000 people (7,000 with emergency needs) by 2014 by supporting 2,500 additional individuals annually. This wait list will likely increase to at least 14,000 if immediate action is not taken.

2. Reduce the number of people living in State Operated Developmental Centers (SODCs) from more than 2,200 to about 1,000 by 2014. This would also allow five of the current nine centers to close.

3. Shift current state services to invest in more in-home supports so that individuals can stay at home with their families, or live in the community with necessary supports. Community based-living has been shown to provide more individualized, efficient and cost-effective service – and can allow Illinois serve thousands more individuals. Conservatively, the cost for one person in a large, state-run institution averages $125,000 per year. If that same person could live in the community with tailored supports, on average, the cost per person would be cut in half.

“The Blueprint gives the state direction on how to meet the needs of its citizens with developmental disabilities. The time for Illinois system redesign is long overdue. Too many people are not receiving the services they need. Unless something is done immediately, things will only worsen and cost more to fix later,” said John Agosta, Ph.D., Vice President, Human Services Research Institute (HSRI).

In 1999, The United States Supreme Court ruled that institutionalizing individuals with disabilities who are able to participate in and benefit from community settings is a form of discrimination1. This topic is once again gaining momentum due in part to Illinois’ own Barack Obama who has compared the issues facing people with developmental disabilities to segregation2.

“Every citizen of Illinois is affected by the state’s service system in some way. If the Blueprint is implemented, everyone will reap the benefits of a more efficient system and lives of people with developmental disabilities will be greatly improved,” said Sheila Romano, Ed.D., director of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities.