To the Editor: State budget cuts will force many people with disabilities to live in institutions

I am writing on behalf of 11,500 Illinois citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who are languishing on waiting lists hoping to receive critical home-based services that would allow them to be supported in the communities where they live.

The proposed 6 percent state budget cuts of vital services to individuals with IDD will force many out of their homes and away from their families and communities to live in segregated and costly institutions, which is in clear violation of their civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

My organization, Bethesda Lutheran Communities, provides essential services to people with IDD in their homes and in the communities. And we provide these vital services at 50 percent less than institutional costs.

However, the state has proposed cuts to vital health services like dental care and mental health supports for people with IDD who live in the community. If individuals want to ensure access to these services, they must agree to institutional placement.

This is no longer a budget issue. It’s a civil rights issue.

Katherine Dunbar
Regional Director—Illinois
Bethesda Lutheran Communities

From the March 23-29, 2011 issue

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