I have now read the first two articles of a three part series titled “Suffering in Silence” by investigative journalist Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan that present heart-breaking, gut-wrenching information concerning the Illinois developmental disability service system. These articles resonate with me personally. My middle daughter is a 26-year-old woman who has a developmental disability, Down Syndrome, and lives in a community integrated living arrangement.
To suggest that community living is not the appropriate model for the majority of people with developmental disabilities is to misplace or avoid addressing the real issues. The article states caregivers who work in group homes earn an average of $9.35 an hour. These caregivers are often providing services to multiple people. A Personal Attendant (PA) in the Home Services Program earns $13 an hour for providing services to one individual. Governor Rauner and the Illinois lawmakers recently had the opportunity to address the problem of caregiver wages and both failed our sons and daughters.
The articles also raise other direr issues plaguing the Illinois Office of Inspector General, Division of Developmental Disabilities, providers and, most importantly, the very safety of individuals with developmental disabilities. These must be addressed! Action must be taken so that our sons and daughters may live in a safe environment.
Thank you for bringing light to an issue many families have known for some time. Now let’s hope those in power have the courage to do the right thing.
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Missy Kichline, Godfrey