Stop underfunding programs for those with disabilities

As is customary in the spring of each year, the Illinois General Assembly will approve a budget identifying anticipated revenue sources as well as planned expenses. Unfortunately, another process that has taken place each spring is the habitual underfunding of services and supports for children and adults with disabilities. I am asking you to join me in reaching out to your local elected officials to encourage them to fully fund services for individuals with disabilities.

Illinois has underfunded services for people with disabilities for over a decade. In 2011, a federal court found the state of Illinois failed to comply with a federal law specific to the care and funding of individuals with disabilities. Illinois was ordered to do better. Today, Illinois is still not in compliance with the federal court order. We must do better.

The chronic underfunding of programs and services for individuals with disabilities have taken a toll on the service delivery system. Over 18,000 people are currently on a waiting list for services that would allow them to live as independently as possible and contribute fully to their communities. To add insult to injury, Illinois ranks 47th in the nation when it comes to funding services and programs that support and empower individuals with disabilities. We must do better.

Recently, a state-commissioned study looked at what it would take for Illinois to comply with the federal court order. As a result of the study, Illinois now has a 5-year roadmap that will fully fund disability services all while recouping maximum matching dollars from the federal government. The catch, Illinois lawmakers must prioritize people over politics. Specifically, lawmakers must prioritize individuals with developmental disabilities in the 2022 state budget. We must do better, and we can do better.

Please join me in reaching out to Representatives Blaine Wilhour and Adam Niemerg and Senators Darren Bailey and Jason Plummer. Tell them that people with disabilities deserve better. Tell them to prioritize individuals with disabilities and tell them that the chronic underfunding of disability services has to stop. Tell them that they must do better.

Andy Kistler, Executive Director, Community Support Systems

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