Governor Quinn Earns Top National Honor as a “Champion” for People with Disabilities

Illinois Governor Pat QuinnIllinois’ Rebalancing of the Disability System Cited as a “Model for the Nation”

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn is being recognized by The Arc of the United States for his work to offer people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to live in a community of choice.  The Advocacy Matters! Award is The Arc’s most prestigious honor and presented to those who demonstrate the ability to promote and protect the civil and human rights of people with disabilities and increase resources, services and supports that promote their full inclusion and participation in the community. Governor Quinn has been a long time advocate for people with disabilities, and this award acknowledges his leadership in closing state institutions and shifting resources to offer people with disabilities the opportunity to live more independently and thrive in their communities.

The nominating petition further credited Governor Quinn for signing a Consent Decree that will move 3,000 individuals with disabilities off the state’s waiting list and provides the choice of small community living options to the 7,000 people who live in Intermediate Care Facilities for people with Developmental Disabilities (ICFDD’s).

“Everyone in Illinois – regardless of the challenges they face – deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential,” Governor Quinn said. “We are changing the status quo in our state from an over-reliance on outdated institutions to investing in community, in people and in their potential.

It is an honor to receive this recognition as we keep working on our mission of improving care for people with disabilities, so they can lead more independent and fulfilling lives.”

The Arc of Illinois nominated Governor Quinn in May citing his tireless efforts to “bring Illinois out of the dark ages” and set the tone for “best practices to make life better for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

“This is a Governor that does things for the right reasons and is relentless in his determination to put people with disabilities before politics,” says Tony Paulauski, executive director of The Arc of Illinois. “Governor Quinn’s vision in rebalancing the disability system is a model for the nation and one that all Illinoisans can be proud of.”

In 2009, the Governor began collaborating with disability advocates throughout the state to develop a person-centered plan to help people with disabilities reach their full potential by providing funding and resources for them to live in the community with the proper supports and services. Two years later he announced his Rebalancing Initiative, including plans to close state institutions and provide community living options for more than 900 people. Two state institutions have been closed to date and Murray Developmental Center in Centralia is scheduled to close later this year.

In May, the General Assembly passed House Bill 2591, a bill that will make Illinois an Employment First state, a priority outlined in Governor Quinn’s 2013 State of the State Address. Governor Quinn will be signing the bill into law Tuesday at an event celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

3 State Chapters Making a Difference – Let’s hear it for Alabama, Illinois and Virginia!

Being part of the community and living as independently as possible are among the most important values and goals shared by people with disabilities, their families, and advocates.  Chapters of The Arc across the country are on the front lines of pushing for inclusion and advocating for these important rights in their communities.  And we want to share the progress that is being made in Alabama, Illinois and Virginia.

Alabama

The Arc of Alabama’s tireless work led to a huge victory for its state at the end of 2011. Working with other statewide I/DD organizations, the W.D. Partlow Developmental Center in Tuscaloosa, the home of thousands of individuals with I/DD over the years, officially closed on December 28. With the closure of Partlow, Alabama becomes the first state in the southeast and one of only 13 states in the country to no longer operate large public institutions.

“We are delighted about the closure of Partlow. We share the credit for this great accomplishment with People First of Alabama and others, but I can say it would not have happened without The Arc,” said Tom Holmes, Executive Director of The Arc of Alabama.

December’s closing meant the last 150 residents of Partlow were moved to community homes throughout the state.  Partlow, which opened in 1923, was costing approximately $42 million a year to operate.

“Most of the families come back and say that they did not realize that their family members would be so much happier living in the community. That is just wonderful for us to hear,” said Tom Holmes.

To learn more about the closure of Partlow read about it in The Tuscaloosa News.

Illinois

Governor Pat Quinn’s announcement of his plan to rebalance the state’s approach to providing long term services and supports for individuals with I/DD means change for thousands of individuals in Illinois. The Governor’s Active Community Care Transition (ACCT) plan will increase the number of individuals with I/DD living in community settings across the state.

“This historic change in public policy embraces freedom, independence and choice. Our current system is antiquated. Only two states warehouse more people in institutions than Illinois and 13 states have closed all public institutions. More than 30 national studies show that community living provides the most safe and effective care. Yet Illinois ranks last in the nation in the number of available community settings,” said Tony Paulauski, Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois.

The Arc of Illinois has been an integral partner in moving the state toward a community based system. Over the last few months the Governor’s office has been in constant contact with The Arc of Illinois’ Executive Director Tony Paulauski and other members of The Arc.

During the first phase of the plan, residents from the Jacksonville Developmental Center (JDC) in Jacksonville, IL and from the Tinley Park Mental Health Center (MHC) in Tinley Park, IL will be transitioned to community settings and the facilities will be closed. Read more about the first of these closures.

Also, check out The Arc of Illinois website for updates on the transition.

Virginia

Last month, the Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement with Virginia requiring the state to provide community-based services through Medicaid waivers and family supports for more than 5,000 individuals with I/DD. The agreement means that Virginia will no longer be heavily reliant on large, expensive, public institutions. The state will be able to focus on individualized and cost effective community based services that allow individuals to live independent lives and participate in the community.

“The Arc of Virginia applauds Governor McDonnell and his administration for taking this important step in the right direction.  We salute DOJ’s leadership on making this a successful effort that will result in thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities being afforded the opportunity to live “A Life Like Yours” in the community.   This landmark agreement will be long remembered as a historic moment in the ID/DD civil rights movement,” said Jamie Liban, Executive Director of The Arc of Virginia.

The state must create 4,170 new waiver slots for people currently residing in the state’s five Training Centers (about 1,000 individuals), people with intellectual disabilities who are on the state’s “urgent” waiting list for waiver services, people with ID who are under 22 and live in facilities other than the training centers, people with DD who are on the state’s waiting list for waiver services and for people with DD who are under 22 and live in facilities other than the training centers. The state also will create an individual and family support program for 1,000 individuals with I/DD most at risk of institutional placement.

Detailed plans for helping individuals transition from institutional settings to community settings and establishing a quality and risk management system are outlined in the agreement. An independent reviewer will oversee the settlement agreement for the court which retains jurisdiction.

View The Arc’s full statement in response to this agreement.

The Arc’s Reaction to the Department of Justice and Commonwealth of Virginia Settlement Regarding Institutions

Washington, DC – The Arc, the nation’s largest and oldest human rights organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) serving more than a million individuals and their families, issued the following statement on the news that the Commonwealth of Virginia has reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding four of its institutions for people with I/DD.

“This settlement is a big step forward in bringing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of the shadows and into communities across Virginia, where they belong.  The Department of Justice’s commitment to monitoring and oversight of the implementation of this agreement will be key to ensuring that the shift to community based services away from institutions will be successful for people with I/DD in Virginia.

“The Arc of Virginia and the network of chapters across the state have been instrumental in putting this agreement in place.  They will continue their work at the state capitol to advocate for additional resources for people with disabilities so that they can move off of waiting lists and begin receiving the supports they need to live independent lives in the community,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc of Illinois, Making Headlines!

The Arc of Illinois has been advocating for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for 60 years. Right now, there is discussion in Illinois surrounding government-run institutions for individuals with I/DD. Governor Pat Quinn has the opportunity to improve the lives of people with I/DD in his state by moving away from institutions and toward community based care.

After a visit with the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, the Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois Tony Paulauski shared today the results – an editorial that advocates for this shift. We are sure that many people will gain a better understanding about the challenges the I/DD community faces from this editorial.