Monday, July 20, 2009

"State Leaves Disabled In Lurch"

Although a budget has been passed, the damage that has been done to human services agencies in Illinois may be irreversible.

Please take a look at Mark Brown's column in yesterday's Sun Times for a glimpse at how the budget cuts have impacted people with disabilities in Illinois. Mr. Brown tells the story of Tom Morissette of Elmhurst, who was born with Down Syndrome.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"[A sheltered workshop or community learning center] could involve Tom stuffing envelopes, assembling pens, connecting nuts and bolts, filling Easter baskets or making Christmas ornaments, depending on what contracts the agency has at the time. Once a week, Tom also helps deliver Meals on Wheels to elderly residents, a task he particularly enjoys.

That is, that's what Tom and the others did until a couple of weeks ago, when the Illinois Human Services Department cut off all state grants for such work-training programs in response to the budget stalemate. The Ray Graham Association was forced to close its work program.

Since then, Tom has been stuck at home, mostly watching television or sitting on the porch swing....

Even though legislators passed a budget Wednesday that will presumably restore some of the cuts, agencies like Ray Graham Association are still awaiting word on how they will be affected and when they might resume."

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