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SPRINGFIELD – Following years of abuse and neglect allegations at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center, the Illinois Department of Human Services announced a comprehensive plan to reshape the way the state cares for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

A number of members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus have long been outspoken about the issue, regularly calling for action and change. They were pleased to see a multi-faceted approach come to fruition.

“I am encouraged by the proposed changes from DHS. The safety of mental and behavioral health patients needs to be the top priority,” said State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview). “I applaud DHS and the governor for announcing a plan that prioritizes patients. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with them and other partners to best support patients at Choate and their caregivers.” 

In coordination with their families and guardians, and with support from the SIU School of Medicine, most current patients at the Choate Center in Anna will have the opportunity to transition into community-based settings or other state centers where they will receive comprehensive, personalized care.

“We can no longer sit back and allow cruelty, abuse and poor care to overrun the facility,” said State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest). “The plan outlined by the Department of Human Services is a good start. It is vital immediate action is taken to double down on safety precautions to ensure no other person is mistreated.”

Portions of the Choate campus will be repurposed to meet patient capacity and other urgent needs. Safe, gradual, carefully planned resident transitions will take place in close coordination with residents themselves, and their families and/or guardians. Resident well-being and dignity will guide every step of the process.

“I am encouraged by this proposed plan that prioritizes resident well-being and dignity,” said State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights). “While this initiative will not be a quick fix, a comprehensive and research-based approach is needed to deliver dependable and equitable care moving forward.”

While resident transitions will initially focus on Choate, IDHS will work to expand its emphasis on community-based settings across the developmental health system. In the years ahead, IDHS will work to further expand community-based capacity which will result in a lowered resident headcount and improved staffing ratios at state developmental centers.

"I commend Governor Pritzker for taking strong, thoughtful, decisive action to improve Illinois’ system of care for people with developmental disabilities and serious mental illness,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “Together with residents, patients, families, guardians, and hardworking state government staff and health care providers, I am confident IDHS is beginning a new and positive chapter in the history of the Choate Center.”