The recent closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center marked a historic step forward in the Rebalancing Initiative that will increase community care options for people with developmental disabilities and mental illness and reduce the number of outdated institutions in the state. Under Gov. Pat Quinn's leadership, two state-operated developmental centers have closed and 600 individuals will transition into community settings during the next couple of years.
IDHS worked closely with families and guardians on a person-centered planning process to ensure safe transitions for residents of the Jacksonville Center. We developed a comprehensive, well thought-out plan to transition residents safely into the community. Residents went through a thorough planning process, including assessment, consultation with families and guardians, and planning sessions with providers to determine specific needs and ensure safe transitions. Many Murray Developmental Center residents are now in the beginning stages of that process.
In addition, each and every person moving into the community will visit his potential new home and have a transition meeting prior to discharge. Residents will only be transitioned to licensed programs and will move in safe and appropriate means of transportation. The process of transitioning individuals has been and will continue to be careful and deliberate.
Numerous studies show that individuals living in the community have a better quality of life than those living in large institutions. Community settings allow individuals to receive the care they need, including 24-hour care. Community care is also significantly less costly than institution-based care. The average cost for Murray Center is $219,379 per year per resident, while the average cost for a Murray resident living in the community is estimated at $100,000 per year.
Unfortunately there has been misinformation communicated by those opposed to the closure that can only harm the process. Neither IDHS nor its contractors has changed client records. To do so would be a violation of both state and federal regulations. Any employee or contractor who did so would be subject to severe sanctions.
We do not place individuals in settings until they are properly equipped to handle their specialized needs.
Before being transitioned, the department also ensures that providers are knowledgeable and well-equipped to handle those specialized needs.
Providers participating in the Rebalancing Initiative must be licensed by the state. IDH requires contracted providers to do background checks on potential employees, including criminal background checks, Illinois Sex Offender Registry, DCFS abuse/neglect registry, IDPH health care worker registry, and national Medicaid fraud sanctions list. As well, we require these employees to have 80 hours of on-the-job training and 40 hours of classroom instruction.
As always, we are strongly committed to communicating and working closely with Murray residents, families and guardians to ensure that all residents are transitioned to a quality setting of their choice.
Kevin Casey is director, Division of Developmental Disabilities, for the Illinois Department of Human Services.