In today’s economy, finding employment is harder than ever. Now just think if you have an intellectual disability, autism, blindness, hearing loss, or cerebral palsy. Although people with disabilities want to work, the challenges they face today are greater than ever before.
The budget passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate totally eliminates a program that is extremely vital to about 3,000 people with disabilities employed today because they have access to the long-term assistance of a job coach. This Division of Rehabilitation Services program only costs the State about $1M dollars per year to operate. The funds are used only for the purpose of keeping these individuals with the most significant disabilities employed. Without these services, the unemployment level in Illinois will raise by 3,000 more people.
For people with the most significant disabilities, being employed often times is less about the money and more about being responsible, striving to reach a level of independence, self esteem, friendship, and a feeling of personal success. Illinois can and should find the money in the budget for this critical service. If there is money in the amount of $1,057,500 for the DuQuoin State Fair and Illinois State Fair entertainment and award costs, then there should be another million more somewhere to keep 3,000 dedicated employees with disabilities on their jobs.
Ray Graham Association asks that you please forward this information to anyone who can help us get more exposure for this issue. Governor Quinn needs to know that although these cuts seem small in the overall budget picture they are extremely devastating to the individuals currently receiving these services. RGA provides support to 15 of the people who will be adversely affected by this budget cut. We ask that the Governor restore this funding which will allow 3,000 of the state’s most severely disabled residents the opportunity to remain employed.