The Illinois House of Representatives recently approved legislation directing the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of the Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). The resolution (HR 34) sponsored by State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) was introduced in light of the abuse and neglect which took place throughout the state in group homes for the developmentally disabled dating back to 2011.
The tragic reports of abuse and neglect came to light thanks to the Murray Parents Association’s work with the Chicago Tribune, sparking an investigation by the newspaper, then followed by the Tribune publishing its story earlier this year titled SUFFERING IN SECRET: Illinois hides abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities,” in which the newspaper “identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and determined at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.”
“The audit unfortunately can’t undo the abuse and neglect which occurred, however this audit will help us learn more about what went wrong and how Illinois can improve the quality of care for our most vulnerable,” said Rep. Meier. “DHS has already made improvements, though I am optimistic this audit will further improve how the state properly cares for the developmentally disabled.”
The Illinois Department of Human Services has seven State-operated developmental centers (SODCs) serving approximately 1,800 residents. Individuals also receive services in community-based settings through Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs), which house one to eight residents each otherwise called “group homes”. In 2012, then-Governor Quinn announced a “rebalancing initiative” with the goal of moving individuals from SODCs to community settings. In 2012, the SODC in Jacksonville was closed and the majority of its residents were transitioned to CILAs. Followed by the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia being slated for closure, resulting in some residents being transitioned out of their home they call Murray and being placed into group homes. However, as it stands today, Murray Center is and will remain open.
Rep. Meier added, “There are good CILAs and there are some bad CILAs. My goal is to help make sure unsafe CILAs are a thing of the past.”