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Illinois Begins Year-Long Study On Institutions

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS--State officials are launching a one-year study of the nine state-operated institutions that house about 2,700 people with developmental disabilities.

In an article for The Pantagraph, those officials were quick to point out that this does not mean they are studying whether or how to close the facilities. Instead, some insist, the study's goal would be to "improve" conditions there.

The study was prompted by a controversy over the closure four years ago of Lincoln Developmental Center, which had been plagued with a series of investigations of abuse and neglect, and the building this year of four 10-bed "homes", named "Lincoln Estates", on the former LDC campus.

Governor Rod Blagojevich had promised to reopen LDC as part of a campaign promise. But, as the buildings neared completion, he said he was not so sure reestablishing a state-run facility on the old grounds was the right thing to do. He has since decided not to fund operations at Lincoln Estates for the current fiscal year.

The number of large institutions across the country has been on the decline for the past four decades, particularly after it was found that conditions at such facilities violated the rights of residents, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that unnecessarily institutionalizing people with disabilities violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Several states have eliminated institutions all together in favor of community-based residential programs and in-home supports.

But not all states have embraced the movement toward community living.

"Illinois just keeps clinging to this model," said Zena Naiditch, executive director of Equip for Equality, the state's federally mandated protection and advocacy system, which has been advocating for closing state institutions and moving people with disabilities into smaller homes in the community.

State to study centers for developmentally disabled (Pantagraph)
State doesn’t know what it will do with new buildings on LDC grounds (Lincoln Courier)
Lincoln Developmental Center -- Illinois Governor Strives To Return To The Past (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.