In this week’s edition, I want to share some information with you that relates to my travels to Chicago this week to attend a joint committee hearing of the House and Senate’s Human Services Committees. I am not a member of the Human Services committee, but specifically asked to be allowed to temporarily join the committee as a substitute because the issue being discussed is near and dear to Southern Illinois.
As many of you may know, during Pat Quinn’s administration, Illinois radically changed the course of our mental health policy to move away from using state run mental health facilities like the Warren G. Murray Center in Centralia in favor of a “group home” or CILA mentality. CILA stands for Community Integrated Living Arrangement.
|Rep. Bryant questions witnesses testifying before a joint committee
of the Illinois House and Senate’s Human Services Committee during
a meeting in Chicago on Wednesday.
CILA’s do have a place in the overall strategy to care for our most vulnerable citizens. It is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that the private contracting entities responsible for managing these types of housing arrangements are living up to their responsibility to provide top notch care for individuals with developmental disabilities in clean, safe environments.
Unfortunately, a lack of proper oversight and a lack of resources has led to some disturbing revelations made recently a series of articles written by the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune’s investigation identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and at least 42 deaths linked to abuse and neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.
A significant development occurred on Tuesday when a Cook County judge ordered Disability Services, a company that runs group homes in Illinois, to turn over 18 of its residents to the state due to the possibility of “irreparable harm” being done to the residents of their CILAs. You can read more about that decision by clicking here.
When Pat Quinn tried to close the state run Murray Center in Southern Illinois, many families were put in an immediate crisis situation. Despite having lived their entire lives at Murray Center, residents and their families faced the possibility of being moved into a CILA, causing interruption to life long-routines and the potential of being moved as far away as Chicago.
It is my long-held belief that Illinois needs to have places like the Murray Center available for families to bring their loved ones to get around the clock, specialized care and supervision that they need and deserve. We also must have a place for individuals that are mentally disturbed and unable to feed or care for themselves in any way. Our society should be judged on how we care for our most vulnerable citizens.
During the hearing on Thursday, one of the CILA’s administrators stated that he believed that Illinois should close 6 of its 7 state run mental health institutions. I found this to be completely unacceptable, especially when considering the revelations of 1311 cases of harm and 42 deaths in CILA’s over the last seven years. You can read the Chicago Tribune’s series called “Suffering in Secret” by clicking here.
In the coming weeks and months, I will continue to call on the Illinois Department of Human Services to do all that it can to implement a comprehensive strategy that protects places like Choate Mental Health Center in Anna and the Murray Center in Centralia so vulnerable citizens in Southern Illinois will have safe, reliable facilities to turn to.
I will keep you updated on further committee meetings on this topic.
My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 to 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message through the contact form on my website at www.repbryant.com
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