Easterseals' adult programs ending in Chicago, Tinley Park

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A lack of state funding is blamed for cutbacks involving Easterseals. Programs that help adults in Chicago and Tinley Park ended Wednesday, impacting dozens of adults with disabilities.

Tears and a lot of emotions Wednesday as Easterseals ends a program that has helped adults with disabilities for decades.

The Chicago program located in the 1900 block of West 13th Street has been in place since 1993. The sister program in Tinley Park has been running since 2006. Now, both of those locations are closed, impacting 44 adults.

Danny Bruno arranged the bulletin board at his Easterseals program one last time as the program that serves adults 22 and older with developmental disabilities ended Wednesday.

"I've been awake at 3 almost every morning for the last 2 weeks," said Rick Bruno, Danny's father.

Danny, who has autism, is 32 years old now. He's been in the Easterseals program for 18 years, including the last 10 years as an adult. Now his family is facing a challenge.

"Unfortunately, the funding is inadequate in the state of Illinois for these types of services," said Easterseals Spokesperson Kelly Anne Ohde.

This is the crux of the financial problem state funding has rarely increased for adults with disabilities.

Easterseals says for 9 years, the state provided $10.39 an hour per adult, or a yearly total of $11,429.

Last fall, there was finally an increase, bringing the hourly total per adult to $10.88, or $11,968 a year per client each year.

"The deficit is huge...we couldn't find other ways to cover the rent, the overhead, the utilities, and we just couldn't do it any longer," said Ohde.

"The only thing they didn't have was the support that they needed from the state," said Rick Bruno.

Easterseals said 24 adults have found new programs, but 20, like the Bruno family, are still searching for the right fit. So far, five programs have turned Danny down, but his family is not giving up.

"One door closes and another one opens. We're hopeful he'll find placement, but scary thing is there is no guarantee," said Rick Bruno.

Easterseals also has programs for those three and younger and an academy. Those programs will not be impacted.

It comes down to funding - or lack of funding - to keep the program running. It was difficult for Easterseals to cover costs and to keep workers because of the low wages.
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