Friday, May 9

Committee hears LDC recommendations

[MAY 9, 2003]  Plans are well under way to restore Lincoln Developmental Center. It's one step forward at a time. Last month Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he would set aside funds to reopen LDC. Meetings began to assess needs and costs to restore the facility.

As it looks now, those who want to call LDC home will be able to do so on a newly renovated campus. Gov. Blagojevich has announced that he has allotted $10 million dollars in the state budget for fiscal year 2004, which begins July 1. Plans are that half the money will go to renovate the campus and the other half for services to care for residents. It is intended at this time to open 50 beds for residents and bring more than 100 jobs back.

Rep. Lee Daniels called an informative meeting before the members of the Illinois Mental Health and Disabilities Committee in Springfield on Wednesday, May 7. The goal of the hearing was to assess the history of LDC and look to its future use. LDC supporters notified each other when a posting was seen two days earlier. Despite the short notice, people changed their plans and came to the meeting.

New staff and directors of the Department of Human Services, including Carol Adams; state Reps. Rich Brauer and Bill Mitchell and Sen. Larry Bomke, supporters of LDC; members of the former LDC parents group; and AFSCME members also attended the meeting.

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Representatives of the Illinois Council on the Developmentally Disabled who oppose the large, state-run facilities were also present. The group advocates community-integrated group homes for the developmentally handicapped.

Government leaders, advocates for those with disabilities, families of the disabled and concerned others will work with the Department of Human Services to figure out what the new LDC will be.

There is little question about the need or desire to reopen the facility. It will not be a problem getting residents to place there. Many parents of past residents have been to the meetings and said that they would like to have their children back there. The location is one of many factors that former LDC parents have said makes it a good place for their children to be located. It makes it easier parents to visit their children. As Rita Burke, one member of a parent group, said: If you open it, they will come.

LDN will bring you more on when, how and what will happen on the LDC campus as details become available.

[Jan Youngquist]

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