AID makes case to Kane for help for disabled
By Matt Brennan For The Beacon-News October 25, 2012 4:42PM
Updated: November 27, 2012 10:33AM
In Kane County there are 10,000 people who will need lifelong help due to a developmental disability. Another 10,000 people will need a less intensive form of help.
Many stay in school until they are 21, but after that what happens to them is uncertain. The lucky ones will continue to receive support from their parents, and the organizations designed to help the developmentally disabled, according to Patrick Flaherty, vice chairman of the Association for Individual Development.
But that help is becoming more difficult to provide, Flaherty recently told the Kane County Public Health Committee. “It’s in jeopardy because state and federal funding have been drastically reduced,” he said.
The Public Health Committee was originally scheduled to vote on a resolution that would place a referendum question on the ballot for the spring election, asking for extra funding to help the developmentally disabled. The resolution was pulled off the agenda at the last minute.
In order to get that question on the spring ballot, AID will either need a majority vote from the County Board, or 24,000 signatures. With a new chairman, and several new board members to be seated in December, that timeline could become difficult to meet if they are seeking board approval for the question.
Despite the resolution being pulled, Flaherty stressed the urgency of the issue, and an increasingly difficult attempt at securing state funding.
The developmentally disabled by definition become severely and permanently disabled before the age of 22. Many are born this way, he said. Some examples include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism and muscular dystrophy.
When the developmentally disabled receive the right type of care, many can utilize transportation, obtain jobs, and become productive members of society. AID has 32 homes across Kane County to help them attain independent living.
When they don’t receive the right kind of help the developmentally disabled can end up on the streets, adding to the homeless population. They can also be warehoused in institutions, Flaherty said.
Many of their parents are aging, which will call into question what happens with the children after they are gone. People currently cared for at home will require residential placement and other community support, as their parents continue to age.
“The challenge is to find a solution to this,” Flaherty said.
There are 16,640 school children in Kane County in special education programs. Half of these children will require community help as they reach 21.
Housing, jobs, transportation and respite will all be needed for these families, at a time where funding is being cut from these types of services, Flaherty said.
“In finding these solutions, we’ll decide what kind of community we’ll want to be,” he said.