Since Governor Quinn announced a FY 2012 Budget in February, and since other budgets have been released, Access Living and other disability groups have been organizing furiously to reverse proposed cuts that reduce funding for services that support people with disabilities living in their own homes.
Among many other items, these cuts include a 36% reduction in state funding for Centers for Independent Living, service and eligibility caps on the Home Services Program, and the elimination of the Community Reintegration Program.
These cuts, along with cuts to developmental disability services and mental health services could result in a nightmare scenario.
For years, the disability community has been advocating the benefits of a long term care system that is balanced between institutional and community-based services. For years, we have been working toward a system in which people with disabilities would have quality service options in the community. For decades, Illinois has been dependent upon institutional services. As a result, thousands have been forced to live in institutions even though they would rather receive services in the community and even though community-based services are less expensive.
Though Illinois has made overtures toward rebalancing its system and offering more community-based choices, the current budget proposal will hinder efforts to maintain current options and build new community options. As a result of the cuts, people will lose the supports they need in the community and will be forced into institutions. People currently in institutions won’t be able to find the supports they need in order to move into the community.
Week of April 25
Access Living has organized to maintain supports in the community. On April 27, about 20 consumers and staff traveled down to Springfield to advocate for funding for Centers for Independent Living, the Community Reintegration Program and the Home Services Program. The group divided into four teams then spoke with House Representatives around the capital.
The teams built support for a piece a legislation (Center for Independent Living/Home Services Program Bill) that would restore important funding. The teams generated signatures from six legislators who signed on in support of the bill, and earned commitments seven others to sign on.
Access Living’s Director of Advocacy remained in Springfield, and attended the House Hearing on the Department of Human Services Budget on the April 28.
Access Living will continue to send teams of people to Springfield throughout the Spring. The next trip is scheduled for May 3.