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Governor Quinn Earns Top National Honor as “Champion” for People With Disabilities

Illinois’ Rebalancing of the Disability System Cited as a “Model for the Nation”

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn is being recognized by The Arc of the United States for his work to offer people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to live in a community of choice.  The Advocacy Matters! Award is The Arc’s most prestigious honor and presented to those who demonstrate the ability to promote and protect the civil and human rights of people with disabilities and increase resources, services and supports that promote their full inclusion and participation in the community. Governor Quinn has been a long time advocate for people with disabilities, and this award acknowledges his leadership in closing state institutions and shifting resources to offer people with disabilities the opportunity to live more independently and thrive in their communities.

The nominating petition further credited Governor Quinn for signing a Consent Decree that will move 3,000 individuals with disabilities off the state’s waiting list and provides the choice of small community living options to the 7,000 people who live in Intermediate Care Facilities for people with Developmental Disabilities (ICFDD’s).

“Everyone in Illinois – regardless of the challenges they face – deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential,” Governor Quinn said. “We are changing the status quo in our state from an over-reliance on outdated institutions to investing in community, in people and in their potential.

It is an honor to receive this recognition as we keep working on our mission of improving care for people with disabilities, so they can lead more independent and fulfilling lives.”

The Arc of Illinois nominated Governor Quinn in May citing his tireless efforts to “bring Illinois out of the dark ages” and set the tone for “best practices to make life better for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

“This is a Governor that does things for the right reasons and is relentless in his determination to put people with disabilities before politics,” says Tony Paulauski, executive director of The Arc of Illinois. “Governor Quinn’s vision in rebalancing the disability system is a model for the nation and one that all Illinoisans can be proud of.”

In 2009, the Governor began collaborating with disability advocates throughout the state to develop a person-centered plan to help people with disabilities reach their full potential by providing funding and resources for them to live in the community with the proper supports and services. Two years later he announced his Rebalancing Initiative, including plans to close state institutions and provide community living options for more than 900 people. Two state institutions have been closed to date and Murray Developmental Center in Centralia is scheduled to close later this year.

In May, the General Assembly passed House Bill 2591, a bill that will make Illinois an Employment First state, a priority outlined in Governor Quinn’s 2013 State of the State Address. Governor Quinn will be signing the bill into law Tuesday at an event celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.