I recently participated in a story about the funding needs for services for adults and children with disabilities. While challenges in Springfield may seem distant from life in Western Illinois, this one has a real impact on our communities.
Illinois has chronically underfunded services for people with disabilities. In our own area, the underfunding has meant that loved ones with disabilities wait far too long to receive the care they need—placing the responsibility of care on family members who must adjust their work schedules and personal lives. At times, family members have had no choice but to quit their jobs to stay at home to provide care.
This underfunding also means that the state has underfunded wages for years for the people we employ. As a result, we must figure out how to make ends meet while attracting and retaining staff, which limits the number of people we can care for and the services we can offer. The lack of access to basic services is also a competitive disadvantage when area businesses try to attract employees who might have a disabled individual in their care. Unfortunately, Illinois is in the lower tier of states in this respect.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of challenges facing our state, but there is a road map in place to begin fixing this system. With federal funds available to offset some of the cost and a state-commissioned, third-party report with recommendations, now is the time to do better.
May 16, 2021 at 07:56AM