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Illinois taxpayers can use checkoffs to support diabetes and autism research

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[JAN. 21, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- Illinoisans can help fund research for autism and diabetes through contributions on their 2005 Illinois income tax returns. Last year, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation creating the Autism Research Fund and the Diabetes Research Checkoff Fund. The Illinois Department of Human Services, which will make grants to public or private entities in Illinois for research, will administer both funds.

"The new tax checkoffs offer Illinoisans an excellent opportunity to support research and improve the lives of people who experience autism or diabetes," said Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., of the Department of Human Services. "These additional funds will greatly enhance the current research efforts and provide hope for the future for those who have autism or diabetes and their families."

Taxpayers may write in a contribution of $1 or more to the funds on the Illinois individual income tax form or the 1040EZ form. Taxpayers filing electronically or by phone may also make tax checkoff contributions. Contributions to these funds are either deducted from a tax refund or added to the taxes owed.

Some estimates indicate that autism affects as many as one in 166 people in Illinois. The Department of Human Services, which also funds The Autism Project in Illinois, will develop a plan for the autism research grants to be awarded later this year.

"Research is a central component of the system of care for children with autism spectrum disorders," said Georgia Winson, M.S., LCPC, director of operations of The Autism Program. "The Autism Program, an IDHS initiative, applauds the work of the parent advocates and legislators who have worked to advance the bill for an income tax checkoff for autism-related research. This bill will give taxpayers in the Illinois the opportunity to join with The Autism Program and others around the state to learn more about the etiology and treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders."

The Autism Program is a systems initiative that is building a network of resources for children with autism spectrum disorders and their families. The program supports training, consultation, outreach, research and model programs through the work of three regional training and service centers and two outreach centers. The regional training and service centers are located at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Hope School in Springfield and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. The outreach centers, established in fiscal 2006, are located at Illinois State University and the University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana.  

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More than 700,000 adults in Illinois are diagnosed with diabetes. Funds contributed to the Diabetes Research Checkoff Fund will be distributed equally by the Department of Human Services to the American Diabetes Association for research to develop a cure for all types of diabetes and to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to support type 1 or juvenile diabetes research.

"The Diabetes Research Checkoff Fund represents the type of creative and forward thinking that means so much in our efforts to fund critical diabetes research and will ultimately help us achieve our collective goal, which is finding a cure," said Amy Franze, executive director of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Illinois.

"We are confident that the funds generated by the tax checkoff will truly benefit the diabetes community and hope that the generous people of Illinois will share our mission and help our work to prevent or delay the devastating complications associated with this disease while improving the lives of those living with diabetes through research, advocacy and information," said Nancy Harris, executive director of the American Diabetes Association of Northern Illinois.

[Illinois Department of Human Services news release]

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