It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
Those words are as true today as when Charles Dickens wrote them to begin A Tale of Two Cities in 1859.
The recent series of articles in the Chicago Tribune about the Illinois system that serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities was chilling. For those of us who are parents, the fear for the safety and well-being of our children runs deep. I got into this “business” over 30 years with the purpose of becoming more knowledgeable about the supports available for my daughter. I have seen Illinois drop from being ranked in the middle of all of the states to near the bottom. We cannot expect quality when the funding has not been increased in well over 10 years. So what do we do?
The sweeping changes to the Illinois Independent Service Coordination have been – at least for now – put on hold. There are so many issues at the state level, that creating more instability is the last thing that we need.
We continue to communicate to those people whom we have elected to public office that the state needs a budget and that budget needs to include adequate funding to provide services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Locally, we can communicate our needs to the Mental Health Board, which has supported services for this population for a long time.
At Options & Advocacy, we must continue to provide advocacy and support to our little ones under the age of three in our Child & Family Connections program. We must continue to support the growing numbers of children and young adults who have a diagnosis of autism. We do so much for these families and there are SO MANY families who need help. We need to support our individuals and families who get assistance in our Community Access Coordination program. It is here that we monitor our local group homes for safety and assure that the 340 people in that program are getting the services and supports that they are supposed to be receiving. Our Sibshops program and support groups are all specifically designed to support our children, adults, and families.
We are a voice for those who are unable to speak. We are the eyes and ears for people whose guardians live far away. We are needed now more than ever.
As you are considering gifts in this holiday season, please consider a gift to Options & Advocacy. In this “best of times,” when there so many positive ways to support children and adults with disabilities, you can part of that solution by supporting Options & Advocacy. You can do so by donating online – or you can write a check and send it to:
365 Millennium Drive
Crystal Lake, IL 60012
We must continue to work towards better lives for those whom care so much about!
May we all be part of something positive in this special time of year!