Blueprint for System Redesign in Illinois

As many of you know, this year Illinois was ranked 51st in the nation for services delivered to its citizens with disabilities. Such discouraging news begs the question, what can we do about it? Luckily, disability advocates already have drawn up a plan. The Blueprint for System Redesign in Illinois was created by the Human Services Research Institute, Dr. Sheila Romano, and the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. The Blueprint is a seven-year action plan that would reconfigure the Illinois system of service delivery to people with developmental disabilities with the goal of more effectively supporting these people in their communities. The changes outlined in the blueprint would move Illinois up to the national median level of provision of services. It is not a complete solution, but it is a significant improvement.

The Blueprint document will be presented to Illinois state legislators this January. Several organizations, such as the ARC of Illinois and the Family Support Network, are trying to mobilize grassroots support for this plan. They need families with members who have disabilities to speak up to our legislators and make our needs and demands heard.

Now, have you ever received a Christmas card from a politician. It usually features a photo of the elected official with his/her family and some generic holiday greeting. Well, lets turn that tradition around this year. I challenge every family who receives our newsletter to send a holiday card, complete with family photo, to your state representative and state senator. It is so important to put a human face on statitistics – let these people see our beautiful families. A suggested text for the card might read like this:

Seasons Greetings from the _______ family. During this holiday season, we hope you will take some time to consider the thousands of people with developmental disabilities in this state who struggle to survive without adequate supports and services. It is a disgrace that Illinois is ranked last in the nation for services delivered to its citizens with disabilities. Please read, understand and support the Blueprint for System Redesign in Illinois, so that our beloved (son/daughter, name) can look forward to a future bright with dignity and a high quality of life. Sincerely,

Most of us are sending out holiday cards already – it is so simple to add two more to your list. Oh, why not make it three, and throw in the governor as well! If you need the names and addresses of your legislators, they are available at Feel free to share this idea with other families as well who may have members who have disabilities other than Down Syndrome.

I hope you will consider taking this step to advocate for the future of your loved one. Our power lies in our numbers and in our voices. Make yourself heard this holiday season.

Kathe Anderson

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