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Governor Quinn Announces Active Community Care Transition Plan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 23 January 2012 08:45
Rebalancing Plan Will Increase Community Care Options for
People with Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions

SPRINGFIELD – January 19, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a plan to rebalance the state’s approach to care for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health conditions. Called the Active Community Care Transition (ACCT) plan, the initiative will increase the number of people with developmental disabilities and mental health conditions living in community care settings across Illinois. Under the first phase of the plan, residents of Jacksonville Developmental Center (JDC) in Jacksonville, IL and patients of Tinley Park Mental Health Center (MHC) in Tinley Park, IL will be transitioned to community settings and the facilities eventually closed.

“My administration is committed to increasing community care options and improving the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities and mental health conditions,” Governor Quinn said. “The approach we are taking will allow for the safe transition of care for some of our most vulnerable citizens to community care settings. I want to thank the members of the public, the General Assembly and advocates who worked with my administration to meet this challenge and help our state move forward.”

Rebalancing Background

In November, the Quinn administration announced its intention to rebalance Illinois’ use of institutionalization for the care of people with developmental disabilities. Illinois lags behind the rest of the nation in the utilization of person-centered, community-based care, which has been demonstrated to allow people with developmental disabilities to lead more active, dynamic lives.

Community settings allow individuals to receive the care they need – including 24-hour care – in their hometown and even their family home. Community care can also be significantly less costly than institution-based care. The ACCT also dovetails with the administration’s recent settlement of a series of court cases related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring the expansion of community care settings.

The administration has worked collaboratively with the General Assembly on this initiative, receiving valuable input from members of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) following public hearings in October and November. The General Assembly also worked with the administration to reallocate funds to allow continued operation of all state facilities through the end of Fiscal Year 2012 (June 30, 2012).

In December, the administration created a bipartisan and bicameral working group, with members appointed by the four legislative leaders, to seek input on the rebalancing and closure process. Incorporating their input, the administration developed a series of objective criteria to determine the facilities that will transition to closure, including ability to recruit staff, economic impact, certification status and physical condition. As different issues affect the Division of Developmental Disabilities and the Division of Mental Health, 10 criteria were developed for the former, 18 for the latter.

The ACCT is a policy decision that also has positive fiscal benefits for the state. In addition to improving quality of life for hundreds of individuals across the state, the move is expected to save the state of Illinois $19.8 million annually, and allow for alternative uses of some of the state’s costliest facilities.

Transition Plan Development and Implementation

To accomplish the plan safely and effectively, the administration brought on Mark Doyle as the state’s Transition of Care Project Manager in October. Mr. Doyle has 33 years of experience in the disability community and has worked in several states to expand community care options and move away from institutionalization. Mr. Doyle is nationally known for his work in the area of community integration and inclusion of people with disabilities in all areas of life. He is highly recognized for his involvement in providing technical assistance to states, community provider agencies, schools and parent groups to create successful community integration.

Mr. Doyle, working alongside senior members of the administration and the Department of Human Services (DHS), developed the ACCT, which includes a comprehensive plan to build additional community capacity and infrastructure for care, as well as a grant to hire nationally-recognized Community Resource Associates (CRA) to conduct independent needs evaluations of each resident of state facilities to ensure they have the resources they need for a successful transition to community care.

The ACCT calls for a “person-centered approach”, meaning that individuals and their families will be a significant part of designing the program that best fits their needs and desires. In accordance with the ‘money follows the person approach’ to rebalancing, after evaluations, each transitioning resident will receive an individualized budget based on their particular support needs. Those with more challenging needs will receive more funds for their care with the average anticipated budget of $7,000 a month per person. The smaller community care options will also allow the state to utilize federal funding for this purpose, reducing state costs.

While there are numerous community care settings currently available in Illinois, the increase in the number of individuals using community care will require the state to develop new settings and options. Unlike state institutions, which may be hundreds of miles from an individual’s hometown, individuals and families will have the choice of community in which their care options are developed. Options will also be available for community care at home, if the individual and their family desires.

The ACCT will also utilize both family-to-family and individual-to-individual mentoring strategies, so that individuals and families will know what to expect and have a support system in place during and after transition. For interested individual and families, the state is also establishing microboards and cooperatives to guide and develop person-centered services options. The administration will work closely with the Illinois Association of Microboards and Cooperative in educating individuals and families as well as providing the technical assistance for those interested in that option.

Division of Developmental Disabilities – Jacksonville Developmental Center

In DHS’ Division of Developmental Disabilities, a total of 600 individuals will transition into community settings over the next two and a half years, allowing DHS to close up to four state institutions, the first of which will be JDC. Working with the individual, parents and guardians, residents at JDC will be evaluated to determine their needs and their individualized and appropriate community care option. A good match between the individual’s needs and community care option is essential to ensure a successful transition.

“Community-based care is about quality of life,” director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Kevin Casey said. “Through this careful, deliberate process, Illinois will improve quality of life for hundreds of people with developmental disabilities, while realizing significant savings through the closure of a costly state facility.”

One of the advantages of community care is its much lower cost compared to institution-based care. For people with developmental disabilities, the state spends on average, between $150,000 and $210,000 per person per year in a state facility, versus the $45,000 to $84,000 per year average in community care.

Matching individuals with both existing and new providers, the ACCT calls for 20 residents a month to move from JDC into community care settings. JDC is anticipated to complete transitions in time for an early October 2012 closure.

 

Division of Mental Health – Tinley Park MHC

In the Division of Mental Health (DMH), Tinley Park MHC will be phased out, with an increase in capacity at community providers and hospitals in the area for those with acute mental health conditions. Tinley Park MHC currently serves only acute-care patients, whose treatment periods usually last between 24 hours and 21 days. Admissions will be halted, allowing all patients to complete their course of treatment before the anticipated early July 2012 closure. Patients with challenges that require ongoing care will be transitioned to care at community providers or hospitals.

Aside from forensic patients remanded into state custody by the courts, state-run mental health facilities primarily serve acute care patients who do not have access to health insurance or Medicaid. As the Affordable Care Act continues going into effect, many people currently without access to health coverage will attain it, reducing the number of beds needed in state-run psychiatric hospitals and mental health facilities. The DMH, however, is actively securing additional beds at community providers and hospitals in the area surrounding Tinley Park MHC to ensure that services in the area are not interrupted.

“The health and safety of those with mental health conditions is our primary concern,” director of the Division of Mental Health Dr. Lorrie Jones said. “This transition will allow us to expand our community and hospital partners while ensuring continued care for those with mental health challenges.”

Closure of Facilities

While improving quality of life is the fundamental purpose of the ACCT, closure of state facilities is expected to save the state of Illinois significant annualized costs. Facilities chosen for closure were evaluated based on 10 objective criteria developed by the administration, with input from members of the legislative workgroup. The first phase of this transition will allow the state to close JDC and Tinley Park MHC, two of the state’s oldest, most inefficient, and costliest facilities to run.

JDC currently costs the state approximately $27.9 million per year to run. After accounting for state costs under community care, Illinois will realize approximately $11.7 million per year in savings, after $16.2 million in community investment. Tinley Park MHC would cost $20.6 million to run in FY 2013. Savings following the closure of Tinley MHC are expected to be approximately $8.1 million after a $9.8 million reinvestment in community services for individuals with mental health challenges.

The physical condition of the facilities was a vital criterion in considering which facilities to transition to closure. Parts of JDC date from the 1850s, and the coal boiler at the facility spends $1.2 million in coal per year, or about $7,000 per resident to heat per year. Of the 8 buildings at Tinley Park MHC, only 5 are operational. The facility was decertified by the federal government in 2009, with recertification unlikely. The Tinley Park facility also shares a campus with the previously closed Howe Developmental Center, preventing the sale of prime real estate for development in Chicago’s south suburbs.

Economic impact was also a criterion in evaluating facilities for transition to closure. The administration realizes that the closure of state facilities will have an economic impact on Jacksonville, Tinley Park and their surrounding communities. However, an Economic Impact Index examination demonstrated that the impacts on Jacksonville and Tinley Park were among the lowest of communities with state facilities.

The JDC currently employs 379 and Tinley Park MHC employs 175 people. Many of these jobs, however, will be absorbed into the local communities. As part of the ACCT development, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) ran a survey of employers in the counties surrounding each state facility for job openings with titles matching those at each site (i.e., registered nurse openings in the Jacksonville area). As of January 9, 2012:

  • 95 matching job titles matching 679 openings existed in the counties surrounding the JDC, and
  • 295 matching job titles matching 14,015 openings existed in the counties surrounding Tinley Park MHC.

The development of community care in these areas will also result in additional job creation in these areas.

The administration will provide regular updates to families, communities, unions, advocates and legislators on the first phase of the ACCT, as well as announcements later in the year for phase two and beyond as Illinois continues its transition to increased community care options.

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IRD-Peace Corps 2012 Fellows Announced PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Melissa Price   
Thursday, 19 January 2012 08:30
ARLINGTON, VA International Relief and Development (IRD), a major implementer of U.S. foreign assistance and a leader in the international stabilization and development community, has announced the 2012 recipients of the IRD-Peace Corps Fellowship Program. Mica Jenkins and Mark Strohbehn will work for three months at IRD headquarters, adding their field experience to IRD’s work while learning new approaches to sustainable, community-based, international development.

“I am so pleased to inaugurate the IRD-Peace Corps Fellowship program, which we believe will help build a community of experienced and informed development professionals prepared to work and lead,” said IRD President and CEO Dr. Arthur B. Keys. “We look forward to reaping the benefits of this new program and are convinced it has the potential to add value to our work, strengthen our productive partnership with the Peace Corps, and help the Peace Corps to secure extend employment for its volunteers.”

During their three-month fellowships, Jenkins and Strohbehn will apply development theory to practical work experience, gain hands-on skills in research and writing, and increase their knowledge of the many technical areas in development.

Fellow Mica Jenkins served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic and Mozambique. In Mozambique, she worked on a women-focused health and food security initiative in which IRD is a partner. The experience encouraged Jenkins to want to learn more about sustainable agriculture and the ways it can contribute to long-term development. She graduated with a degree in anthropology from the University of South Carolina and is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Fellow Mark Strohbehn served in the Peace Corps in The Gambia and Jordan. In Jordan, he worked at the Civil Society Development Center at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. He has a strong interest in the legal dimensions of international aid and development, especially the reintegration of refugees into social, economic and political life. He graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a background in political science and economics. He is originally from Brooklyn, Iowa.

In addition to providing fellows the opportunity to work with IRD practitioners and development experts, the program will create new opportunities for IRD and the Peace Corps to share information on best development practices.

Visit www.ird.org for more information on IRD, and visit the IRD Voices blog to read first-hand accounts from IRD staff in the field. You can also view a recent IRD-Peace Corps video celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, and you can stay up-to-date on IRD’s latest news by following us on Facebook, Twitter (@ird_voices), Flickr, or YouTube.

IRD is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization responsible for implementing relief, stabilization, and development programs worldwide. IRD’s mission is to reduce the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable groups and provide the tools and resources needed to increase their self-sufficiency. Specializing in meeting the needs of communities emerging from conflict or natural disaster, IRD partners with donors, local organizations, and many others to deliver sustainable services in agriculture, governance, health, and infrastructure. For more information on IRD, visit www.ird.org.
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Braley to Hold Weekly Press Conference Call with Iowa Reporters PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 10:13

Will discuss introduction of the Plain Regulations Act

 

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will hold his weekly press conference call with Iowa reporters this morning at 10:30am CST.

 

Braley will discuss the introduction of the Plain Regulations Act, a bill modeled after his successful Plain Writing Act signed into law by President Obama in 2010, which will require the federal government to write rules and regulations in clear, concise, easy-to-understand language.  Braley says the legislation would save small businesses time and money.

 

WHAT: Bruce Braley’s weekly press call with Iowa reporters

 

WHEN:                 TODAY, Wednesday January 18th, 2012

11:30am EST // 10:30am CST

 

CALL-IN:               866-704-2208

PASSCODE:         2414543#

 

# # #

 
Niabi Zoo Makes In Defense Of Animals’ 2011 “Ten Worst Zoos For Elephants” List – Grabs Number Five Spot PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Catherine Doyle   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:52

Coal Valley, Ill. (January 17, 2012) – The 2011 list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants, released yesterday by In Defense of Animals (IDA), once again exposes the hidden suffering of elephants in zoos, where lack of space, unsuitably cold climates and unnatural conditions condemn Earth’s largest land mammals to lifetimes of deprivation, disease and early death. The list is in its eighth year.

A promising trend toward the closure of inadequate elephant displays continued in 2011 and includes zoos that have appeared on IDA’s annual list. The most recent are the Central Florida Zoo and Southwick’s Zoo in Massachusetts. The Toronto Zoo’s appearance on the 2009 list sparked a campaign that led to the closure of that exhibit in 2012. This brings the number of zoos that have closed or will close their elephant exhibits to 22, and zoo experts report that the number is expected to rise.

The Niabi Zoo appears for the second time on IDA’s list with the following entry:

Niabi Zoo (Coal Valley, Illinois) – Nothing to brag about. This small zoo brags that it is the only facility with elephants in Illinois, but it should be ashamed of the grossly inadequate conditions in which it keeps them. Elephants Babe and Sophie have a history of painful chronic foot infections, and one of the elephants had a positive reaction on a blood test for tuberculosis, a serious disease that is transmissible to humans and other elephants. The zoo is trying to raise $4 million to construct a new exhibit that still would be too small to meet the elephants’ immense needs. And the elephants would continue to spend the duration of the long, freezing winters inside a cramped barn. Given the possible presence of an infectious disease, it would not be wise to bring in another elephant. Zoo visitors and the animals would be better served if the zoo ended its elephant program and invested its resources in upgrading other exhibits.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (California) earns yet another dishonorable mention, and the San Antonio Zoo (Texas) becomes the newest inductee into the Worst Zoos for Elephants Hall of Shame, a special honor reserved for the worst repeat offenders.

Another result of IDA’s relentless advocacy for elephants in zoos has been the creation of an historic management policy by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The new policy calls for an end to handling that requires keepers to share the same unrestricted space with elephants. If the AZA is serious about enforcing this policy, it will facilitate an end to the use of the bullhook, a weapon used by keepers to threaten and often inflict painful physical punishment.

“IDA’s Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list illustrates the many serious problems that condemn elephants to lives of misery in zoos,” said IDA Elephant Campaign Director Catherine Doyle. “These include abnormal repetitive behaviors, hyper-aggression, social isolation, and deadly conditions such as foot and joint disease caused by lack of space and movement.”

“Scientific research has shown what elephants need: space to walk miles every day, large families with whom to spend their lives, and rich natural environments,” said Doyle. “Caging elephants in zoo displays is not humane and it is not conservation.”

For more information, please visit www.HelpElephants.com.

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in India, Africa, and rural Mississippi.

 
SEC inspector general departure, need for another good inspector general PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:52

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on the announcement that David Kotz, inspector general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is leaving his position.  Grassley has worked with whistleblowers and conducted other oversight of the agency to help ensure it fulfills its mission of protecting the investing public.

“The SEC needs another good inspector general.  The agency has a big job and faces ongoing challenges to stay on top of fraud.  It’s had some high-profile problems, including missing the Madoff scheme and weak ethics enforcement, as in the David Becker situation.  David Kotz produced strong, conclusive reports, even as critics claimed he was too aggressive.  An aggressive, independent inspector general is best for the agency in the long run, even if that’s uncomfortable for management.  The SEC leaders would be smart to value those qualities and search carefully for candidates who won’t pull punches.  Go-along-to-get-along just doesn’t get the job done.  You need someone who tells it like it is.”

 
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