A federal judge on Wednesday approved a settlement to a long-running civil case that will force Illinois to begin moving hundreds of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities into more community-based homes and apartments of their choice.
“I firmly believe that the state of Illinois, the citizens, have been well-served by these efforts,” said U.S. District Judge James Holderman, who congratulated lawyers who have spent months negotiating terms of controversial case.
“I will issue an order promptly,” he said, noting that he had received only two objections out of 21Ö responses filed with the court. “I will announce informally today that my position is that the consent decree should be approved and this should be the law that is followed.”
The settlement in the case filed in 2005 by Stanley Ligasd and other plaintiffs will change the way the state now pays for their care. Rather than assigning dollars to “institutions,” the money would follow the individual to the housing of their choice. Institutions are defined in the lawsuit as any private, state-funded facility with nine or more residents.
The goal is to bring Illinois into compliance with the 1990 federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that people with disabilities be allowed to live in the “most integrated setting” within their communities.
Under a consent decree supported by both sides in the civil lawsuit, the state would move at least 3,000 people into community-based settings within the next six years, expanding opportunities for those at home or in private institutions, according to the court document.
Ligas, 43, who has Down’s syndrome, will be able to move out of his current 96-bed home at Sheltered Village in Woodstock within 60 days. The state has 90 days to complete its first draft of a transition plan to move hundreds of non-plaintiffs who are covered under the decree, according to the document.
“I am so happy today,” said Ligas, who planned to celebrate at Jimmy Johns. “My family, too.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun