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House for young adults with disabilities could close

October 30, 2010 10:00:00 PM PDT
The rights for people with severe disabilities to live in a community is a personal choice. But due to age restrictions this may no longer be possible.

Families who have medically fragile young adults with developmental disabilities who are currently living in Chicago-area group homes are worried about their children's futures-- especially when there are not many options.

Located in Evanston, this beautiful house is home for eight young adults. Each of them have their own room with a wide range of activities provided by professional staff.

This is one of two specialized community-based living facilities that the Anixter Center, a not-for-profit organization, operates.

Kevin Limbeck is the president and CEO.

"The state of Illinois asked us to build this facility because they're medically fragile young adults with disabilities," said Limbeck. "They have special needs that other children with disabilities their age don't have."

This summer they received a letter from the state saying funding will be cut due to an individual's age.

"The last child aged out became 22," Limbeck said, "and so we understood when we entered this agreement that there would be new rate structure put in place once they became adults.

"We assumed it would be a reasonable rate to cover their special needs, which is more expensive, but unfortunately it translates into a 38 percent cut, and that's not sustainable for our organization right now."

Prior to turning 22, the state paid $110,000 per year, per child. Once they turn 22, the state will only pay $69,000. This is $675,000 less per year.

The majority of the funds go to nursing care.

"We will have to close this facility if we cannot receive additional funding," said Limbeck.

For families whose young adult children live here, they are worried. Robin Bray's 22-year-old son Joshua Bowman has lived here for three years.

"He's been in three previous institutions and none can compare to this. This is home," said Bray. "The institutions house more than 100 plus, and one nurse to maybe 75 kids, and he did not get care at all. I was very upset, and I would leave crying, just devastating."

James Thomas' daughter Crystal has been here since it opened 10 years ago.

"I think the staff here is more for the kids than for the job, because they really love the kids and they put their hearts into the kids," Thomas said. "What would happen to my daughter if the people that care for her or this home was closed? I don't know."

The Illinois Department of Human Services says: "The Department has worked with Anixter in this transition by offering other options to mitigate any possible impact on services. We continue to work with them and remain committed to ensuring the best interest of the residents while operating within the confines of our authority."

"I think that the most important thing is to understand that this is a quality state of the art facility, and it's quality because of the long-term relationships that the medical professional have with the participants and their families," said Limbeck. "So the families can go to bed at night feeling reassured that their children are happy and healthy and safe and being cared for."

For more information about the Anixter center, visit: Anixter.org.


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