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Morrison: Families concerned about state’s commitment to individuals with disabilities

morrison 101716SPRINGFIELD – For families of individuals with disabilities in Illinois, the process of securing job training services, residential housing options or day programs can be an arduous process that can takes years. 

“My son has been waiting for services since 2008,” said Mike Baker, parent and State Advocacy Chair of Autism Speaks.

Baker testified today about the importance of providing services for individuals with disabilities at a Senate Human Services Committee hearing held at the Bilandic Building in downtown Chicago.

State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield), Vice-Chairwoman of the Human Services Committee, attended the hearing and expressed concern about the high number of individuals currently waiting for services.

“There are more than 18,000 individuals with disabilities waiting for services in Illinois,” Morrison said. “Families across the state are rightfully concerned with the high level of uncertainty about the ability of the state to provide services now and in the future.”

Today’s hearing took testimony about current state compliance with the Ligas Consent Decree, a 2011 court mandate that requires Illinois to provide community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

While the decree has helped transition thousands of individuals from institutional settings to community-based centers, requirements contained in the mandate expire after June 15, 2017, causing concern among parents and advocacy groups. 

Another issue discussed at today’s hearing was a recent court decision that Illinois was out of compliance with the Ligas Decree due to the lack of payment increases to providers. Numerous providers have experienced high staff turnover rates and are not able to expand their services.

“Something’s wrong when caring for individuals with disabilities is valued less than flipping burgers or walking pets,” said caregiver Christine Rivera, who works in a suburban Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA).

Sen. Julie Morrison

morrison 150

29th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Environment and Conservation; Human Services (Vice-Chairperson); Education; Committee of the Whole; Commerce and Economic Development; Transportation.

Biography: Born in Beardstown; received a bachelor's degree from Knox College; served as supervisor of West Deerfield Township, married to husband Joe with three grown children.

Associated Representative(s): Elaine Nekritz, Scott Drury