Illinois families choosing group homes over institutions

Until four years ago, Illinois was one of the highest institutionalized states in the nation.
January 5, 2014 11:45:48 AM PST
Until four years ago, Illinois was one of the highest institutionalized states in the nation.

Governor Quinn signed the Rebalancing Initiative Act, moving people with developmental disabilities into community-based settings.

Some families were concerned about these changes.

The changes are not always easy, .especially when the person's situation worked.

Meet a family that was not happy about changes at first:

Lovey is currently living in a small group home located in Lombard. This is one of Ray Graham Association's homes. She used to live in Howe 's developmental Center.

After their mom died, her sisters, Georgene and Mary Clare, became Lovey's guardians.

"Many times, when my mother was alive she was asked about transition to a group home situation she always declined because she was so close and could get lovey on the weekends," Mary Clare said.

It was time to make changes.

"I felt that it was the right thing, but my sister said she s been there over 20 years, how is she going to adjust?" said Georgene.

"Of course, you're worried, you know, we want what's best for her," Mary Clare said.

"And it worked well," said Georgene.

"The transition from an institutional setting to community living is not always easy, according to Michelle Saddler, Sec. of the Illinois Department of Human Services.

" When you spoke with Lovey's family, they acknowledged that change is very difficult. Many people live in institutions for years, and their families are comfortable with that," Michelle said. "Rebalancing is all about freedom, independence and choice. It's about allowing people who can live in the community to choose to live in the community."

"We still have seven, state-operated developmental centers in Illinois, but we are investing more and more in community care," said Michelle.

"Lovey doesn't have a lot of overt physical needs. So, she was not being attended to, and that was one of the things that when she came here to Ray Graham, that we were just pleased with because, you know, she lives in this home," Mary Clare said.

For more information: