Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Illinois Senate is considering a budget proposal that would slash $80 million—a 25 percent cut—from state services for the most vulnerable individuals with developmental disabilities. Late yesterday, a committee of the state House of Representatives approved a similar plan to cut $70 million, or 21 percent.
Concerned family members at Ludeman Developmental Center in Park Forest fear that the devastating cuts to the budget for the state Department of Human Services could force the center to close.
“Ludeman Center cares for people like my son Joseph who have extreme behavioral and medical needs that can’t be met anywhere else,” said Neil Sullivan, president of the Parents and Friends of Ludeman Center. “Closing Ludeman Center is like issuing a death sentence, or telling them to go directly to jail.”
The cuts are contained in Senate Bill 2450, sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans, and House Bill 3717, sponsored by Speaker Mike Madigan and Rep. Sara Feigenholtz.
“Some say our loved ones should move to community agencies where the cost of care is cheaper,” Sullivan said. “But most residents who are now well served at Ludeman were expelled from community settings because those placements could not serve their extreme needs. With these drastic cuts, our state centers like Ludeman will close and our fragile people will have nowhere to go. There is no place like the Ludeman Center available at any price in our area.”
It is not clear what facilities could be forced to close or downsize if the massive budget cut is approved. Where to actually make the cuts would be left up to the Department of Human Services. But the families say that a cut of this magnitude is aimed at closing and downsizing state centers, and they can’t let these bills stand.
“Group homes work for many disabled individuals, but they do not work for ours,” Sullivan said. “All we ask is that lawmakers preserve our right to choose the most appropriate services. This budget would disproportionately slash the state centers, taking away our choice and placing our loved ones at extreme risk.”
Families are contacting state lawmakers and asking them to vote against SB2450 and HB3717.