Imagine moving the 184 residents of Jacksonville Developmental
Center in Jacksonville.
Gov. Pat Quinn's closure date of October
is unrealistic, officials say, because community-care services
throughout Illinois must be assessed and individual plans must be
drafted for the care of each patient.
Families of the residents at the Jacksonville center said they
worry that October is too soon. And even the head of the Illinois
Department of Human Services' Division of Developmental Disabilities
is hedging on the October closure date.
"We're going to close in a safe, sane, sensible way, and we'll
let that dictate the closure date. We're looking right now from a
budget point of view at closing in mid- to late fall, but we're not
going to let that kind of arbitrary date get in the way of finding
good programs for people," said Kevin Casey, division director.
Quinn said the aging Jacksonville facility needs more than $100
million in deferred maintenance, from fixing pot-holed roads to
broken-down boilers. Closing the facility this year would save the
state about $21 million, Quinn's budget office projects.
The Illinois Department of Human Services has contracted with
Derrick Dufresne and Michael Mayer, two senior partners in the
developmental disabilities consulting firm Community Resource
Alliance, to lead the transition of the Jacksonville center's
Dufresne and Mayer spearheaded a three-year project in North
Carolina to move the state from institutional-centric
developmental-disability care to settings in smaller,
A 2010 report, written by the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse
University after the North Carolina project ended, could foreshadow
some of the problems in the Jacksonville closure.
"When organizational change happens too quickly without the
creation of a strong foundation, there is a risk that the community
supports will be created that are not truly individualized, that do
not include adequate organizational and community support, and that
do not offer increased control and choice to the individual," the
Neither Dufresne nor Mayer was available for comment.
Casey said community centers have "significant" waiting lists.
The plan submitted by Mayer and Dufresne on February to DHS for
closing the Jacksonville site echoes the lack of space in current
"Among the numerous challenges faced in this process is …
developing services and supports which will be necessary for
long-term success and which do not currently exist in many
locations," the plan said.
Casey insists the governor's budget allots enough money to help
develop the community-based services needed to absorb people from
the state centers.
Adding to the bottleneck is a proposal to have each of the
residents' individualized plans reviewed by Mayer and again by Casey
before being approved, according to Illinois Department of Human
Services' documents. The review is to ensure residents get placed in
the proper environment, the documents said.
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With all of these factors at play, Quinn's office is now
vacillating on the closure dates it originally set for eight state
facilities, including Jacksonville.
"All the closure dates for the rebalancing (of where
developmentally disabled receive care) are approximate. It's
important to set a goal so that you're working towards a target, but
the safety and well-being of the residents absolutely comes first,"
said Brie Callahan, a spokeswoman for Quinn.
Quinn said the General Assembly didn't give him enough money to
keep the institutions open.
Before Quinn and lawmakers found an extra $376 million to keep
the facilities open, the Legislature's Commission on Government
Forecasting and Accountability voted in November to keep
Jacksonville open. COGFA's vote was only a recommendation, but no
governor has gone against such a vote.
Another hearing on the closure of the Jacksonville center has
been scheduled, but no vote is planned yet.
State Rep. Pattie Bellock, R-Hinsdale, co-chairwoman of COGFA,
said she wouldn't predict whether Quinn's closure date for the
Jacksonville facility would be met, but like Casey, she said she
would make sure the facility wouldn't close prematurely.
Kelly Kraft, Quinn's budget spokeswoman, said the Jacksonville
site needs to close "to return the state to sound financial
Kraft did not indicate where the governor would make up the $21
million if the closing plan fell behind schedule.
Bellock, who recently was named the Illinois House Republic
budgeteer, said that if the facility isn't closed this year, the
state would have to come up with the $21 million elsewhere that
Quinn has projected in savings.
Bellock said beyond any logistic problems with a 10-month closure
scheduled, families with relatives in Jacksonville and the employees
of the center are an active community. She predicts a crowd of up to
1,000 at the March 7 COGFA hearing.
"I want the governor to come out, because I want him to see the
impact," Bellock said.
Quinn's office has not confirmed whether he will attend.
Statehouse News; By ANDREW THOMASON]