SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan announced today that the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education in Chicago will remain open for its 45 students.
The Governor overturned an earlier decision to close the center after it became clear some students might be transferred to facilities far from their families. ICRE was included in $485 million in budget cuts necessary after the post September 11th economic downturn.
"Nothing is worth inconveniencing families who could have their children transferred far from home or disrupting the care these young people receive," Gov. Ryan said.
Gov. Ryan personally reviewed the closure today after weekend reports that some students' families were concerned about the quality of care available at other centers. Others were concerned they would be unable to travel long distances to see their children.
"I was assured by the department last November that the students could be well cared for in the Chicago area. I was troubled by what I have now found and I have directed the Department of Human Services to keep the center open," Gov. Ryan said.
Gov. Ryan also directed Secretary Baker to immediately talk with 21-year-old Lorne Mackey and his mother to find an appropriate Chicago-area facility of their choice. In recent months, ICRE staff had been working with Mackey's family to transfer him to another facility. As a graduate of the education program, he is technically required, under state law, to move to another facility.
"I want to make sure Lorne gets the kind of care that he needs at a place that is convenient to his family and friends in the Chicago area," Gov. Ryan said.
Closing the center would have saved the state $2.5 million this year and $6.5 million in 2003.
"The students, their families and health care providers know what is best for these young people. While budget cuts are a necessary and painful process, we shouldn't punish disabled students who need our help, and we won't," Gov. Ryan said.