Illinois Auditor General Audit Reveals Issues Concerning Oversight of Group Homes for Developmentally Disabled

Today, the Auditor General released a performance audit of the Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). The audit was directed by House Resolution 34 sponsored by State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville). Rep. Meier requested the audit in light of the abuse and neglect which took place throughout the state in group homes for the developmentally disabled dating back to 2011.

According to State Representative Charlie Meier, “This audit reaffirms that more work must be done to improve the quality of care our most vulnerable population should expect to receive. Not all group homes are bad, but there is no excuse for these mistakes to happen again. Since 2015 the state has made improvements; however there is always room for improvement. I won’t give up advocating for better care for our developmentally disabled. In the meantime I will continue to review this audit with my staff in order to help advocate for more improvements.”The following is an excerpt from the Auditor General’s report which can be found at https://www.auditor.illinois.gov.

The audit found weaknesses in DHS’ licensing process including failures to:
• publish accurate survey data
• complete timely annual reviews
• accurately account for notices of violation in its database
• complete all surveys, require plans of correction, and approve all plans of correction
• exercise ability to revoke a CILA license

The audit also found weaknesses in DHS oversight and monitoring of the CILA Program including failures to:
• conduct all CILA reviews by the Bureau of Quality Management (BQM)
• monitor CILA residents’ personal funds by DHS
• maintain supporting documentation for community placement interest by individuals at SODCs
• share findings from DHS bureaus/offices with licensing staff; and
• recover funds from CILA providers not providing services for which they were paid

There was a lack of documentation to support that all required transition visits were conducted for individuals that transitioned to CILA from SODCs. DHS utilized Community Resource Associates (CRA), on a decision from the Governor’s Office from the previous administration, to assist in closing SODCs.The audit also found weaknesses in the oversight by DHS of CRA including questionable procurement strategies and failure to maintain documentation to support required CRA contractual deliverables. Additionally, DHS paid CRA an additional $233,000 for services already required by the contract.

The audit requested by Rep. Meier was in response to the tragic reports of abuse and neglect which came to light thanks to the Murray Parents Association’s work with the Chicago Tribune, which sparked an investigation by the newspaper, then followed by the Tribune publishing its story in 2017 titled SUFFERING IN SECRET: Illinois hides abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities,” in which the newspaper “identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and determined at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.”

Rep. Meier added, “I want to make sure what has been exposed in this audit doesn’t happen again which is why I am calling on the General Assembly to hold public hearings throughout the state this summer and fall to improve the way our state cares for the developmentally disabled. We should bring stakeholders from throughout the state and hold public hearings in southern Illinois, central Illinois, northern Illinois and Chicago. This audit released will help us learn more about what went wrong and how Illinois can improve the quality of care for our most vulnerable. It shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach for caring for our developmentally disabled.”

As of May 2017, DHS licensed more than 3,000 CILA locations around the State with over one-third of all CILAs being located in Cook County. These CILAs served approximately 10,000 individuals.

“The audit exposed Governor Quinn’s administration for not having any decertification documents to justify closing the Jacksonville Developmental Center,” said Rep. Meier. Nor did Governor Quinn have any documentation to justify his effort to close the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia other than his vendetta against state operated developmental centers. Despite no records of decertification of Murray, Governor Quinn still tried to shut it down.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services has seven State-operated developmental centers (SODCs) serving approximately 1,800 residents. Individuals also receive services in community-based settings through Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs), which house one to eight residents each otherwise called “group homes”. In 2012, then-Governor Quinn announced a "rebalancing initiative" with the goal of moving individuals from SODCs to community settings. In 2012, the SODC in Jacksonville was closed and the majority of its residents were transitioned to CILAs a.k.a. “group homes”. Followed by the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia being slated for closure, resulting in some residents being transitioned out of their home they call Murray and being placed into group homes. To this day, Murray Center is and will remain open.

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