Ligas Meeting Minutes - October 19, 2016

Ligas Class Member/Family Advisory Committee

Meeting Minutes

October 19, 2016

Committee Member and Staff Attendees:

Dave Adden

Jay Bohn

Silvia Campone

Ronnie Cohn

Jennifer Elders

Donna Frownfelter

Toni Howard

Missy Kichline

Laura Miller

Ruthann Sikora

Other Attendees: Denise Fisher, Ed McManus

The meeting began at 1:05 pm as a video conference from locations in the Harris Building, Springfield and the Clinton Building, Chicago.

See attached meeting agenda.

The minutes from the July 12, 2016 meeting were approved.

OPENING REMARKS: Donna Frownfelter, Committee Chairperson, greeted the members and attendees.

DDD New Initiatives: Jennifer Elders, the Division's Project Manager for Community Capacity Building, has a long history of experience in the DD field and has been with the Division for nearly four years. She spoke to the committee regarding new DDD initiatives. Jennifer has been researching common barriers and effective solutions that have affected other DD programs. She has been gathering information on successful programs, reaching out to stakeholders, visiting providers, families, individuals, and participating in Life Choices and HHS Transformation meetings.

In general, community capacity building for the division depends on much more than just developing beds but developing infrastructure in the community to support full integration for individuals that transition into the community. Some services that must be considered during and after the transition process include dental care, medical clinics, psychiatric care, social and recreational access, transportation, employment and more.

The Division and stakeholders want to focus on the actual needs and preferences of an individual, while simultaneously looking at current systems with the intent to streamline and customize service delivery to better support individuals in the community. Capacity building efforts will match the Division's stated outcomes and Federal regulations for individuals including person-centered-planning, inclusion, employment, social relationships and empowering the individual to make their own decision.

Jennifer can be reached at:

UPDATE ON SUPPORT STAFF LEGISLATION: Ed McManus, a consultant for the developmental disability community, updated the committee on House Bill 5931. The bill intended to raise the hourly wage of direct support persons above their current average wage of $9.35 an hour. The bill was vetoed but the sponsoring coalition hopes for a veto override.

ARTS OF LIFE PRESENTATION: Denise Fisher, founder and CEO of Arts of Life (an alternative day program for adults with DD) spoke to the committee about the origin and current status of the program.

Beginning her career in the DD field as a behavior support staff, she realized that many behaviors resulted from the individual's reluctance to attend their day programming. She and others subsequently began the program which centers around four core values:

  • Inspiring Artistic Expression: The Arts of Life's model uses art facilitation to support creative decision-making and experimentation, increasing the artists' self-confidence.
  • Building Community: Our primary purpose is supporting each other as professional artists in creating a thriving art community based on cooperative decision-making and mutual respect.
  • Promoting Self-Respect: The Arts of Life encourages its members to accept themselves for who they are and develop a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Developing Independence: Through their artwork, and as members of the community, the artists gain a sense of inner freedom, enabling them to take risks and trust their own judgment.

The Arts of Life opened in 2000 on Chicago's near west side and was the first Alternative Day Program in Chicago for people with disabilities that focused on artistic vocational opportunities. The three founding members were an artist with an intellectual disability, a self-taught unconventional artist, and a professional in the field of developmental disabilities. They came together to address a need created when jobs traditionally given to people with disabilities became sparse. Nine other adults with disabilities were then brought in to embark upon a shared vision: to create a working, person-centric, artistic community while providing a work environment of equality.

Arts of Life has two studios, with one in Chicago and one in Glenview. Each studio supports up to 30 full-time equivalent artists. Each artist has their own studio space and, depending on their preferred medium, they have personal supplies or work from a communal supply area. Each studio is 6,000 square feet and includes an accessible bathroom, archiving, café area, community gallery, exhibition prep/framing room, office space, open studio space, and a wellness room. Each of the 60 artists supported joins the studios between 12-30 hours a week. The Arts of Life provides professional development on a daily basis through individual facilitation (lessons), group critiques, and demonstrations. Current programs include Art Demos and Critiques, Artist Mentor Collaborations, Individual Creative Practice, Horticulture, Music, Performance, Printmaking Initiative, Professional Development, Teaching Artist Residency Program, Wellness, and The Youth Employment Program. Current art mediums include animation, clay, comics, drawing, fiber art, graphic novels, mixed media, music, painting, performance, photography, poetry, and printmaking.

For artists at The Arts of Life, a career in the visual arts is an opportunity for meaningful employment. Artists are paid a monthly stipend for participation in the program and receive 60% of their annual art sales. Prestigious venues around the world showcase The Arts of Life artists' artwork including The Adult Down Syndrome Center in Park Ridge, Carl Hammer Gallery, The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Gray Matter Museum of Art, John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Judy A. Saslow Gallery, and Museum of Everything in London.

For 15 years, The Arts of Life has received accreditation in person-centered excellence from The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL). The Arts of Life is a grant recipient of Arts Work Fund, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events with The City of Chicago, The Coleman Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, Leo S. Guthman Fund, and is a SMART Growth Program recipient with The Chicago Community Trust.

For more information, go to:

UPDATE FROM LIGAS FAMILY ADVOCATES: Missy Kichline updated the committee on The Ligas Family Advocate Program recent activities. The Ligas Family Advocate Program (LFAP) continues to provide family-to-family advocacy support for Ligas Class Members and their families who are selected through the Illinois DDD PUNS. The LFAP was invited to participate in the New Provider Agency Orientation Trainings for Prospective CILA and DT Providers. Several Know Your Options events were held in the northern Illinois/greater Chicago area. The topics included: Understanding Your Rights - Ligas Consent Decree, Service Facilitation, Housing, and Employment. The LFAP began the Ligas Family Advocate Program Introductory presentation to Independent Service Coordination Agencies.

COURT MONITOR UPDATE: Ronnie Cohn, Court Monitor, discussed participation in the hearing called by the Senate Committee on Human Services and held earlier in the week. Monitor, Plaintiff attorney, attorney for Intervenors as well as service provider, parent and direct support professional spoke on the issues of: history and status of Ligas case, Monitor's finding of non-compliance last year, need to raise wages for DSPs and concerns with availability of appropriate services. Testimony of the DSP present was particularly compelling and well received by all.

Monitor met with Kimberly Mercer-Schleider, the new Director of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities (ICDD), and was impressed with her energy, knowledge, experience with people with ID/DD and desire to learn more about improving the provision of services to beneficiaries of the Ligas Consent Decree as well as others.

Another Status Conference will be held with Judge Coleman in December.

CLASS COUNSEL UPDATE: Laura Miller, from Equip for Equality and Ligas Class Counsel, stated that the Division continues to meet its numeric goals. However there remains a lack of residential opportunities in desired areas, a lack of opportunities in the desired size of homes, and a lack of opportunity for meaningful day programs.

She is also concerned that the ICF/DD population is not availing itself of the opportunity to obtain other residential settings, and that the Office of State Guardianship (OSG) guardians are not exploring alternative residential placements.

DDD LIGAS UPDATE: Dave Adden updated the committee on the latest Ligas milestones. As of October 1, 2016, 2680 individuals from the PUNS list are receiving services. The Division's benchmark is 2500 individuals receiving services by June 2016. As of October 1, 2016, 1347 individuals from ICF/DD placements are now receiving community services. The Division's benchmark was to have 923 individuals placed by December 31, 2015.

PUBLIC COMMENTS: No public comments were made.

NEXT MEETING: The next meeting will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. We will meet in the FCS Conference Room (2nd Floor) in the Harris Building and the Secretary's Video Conference Room on the 7th Floor of the Clinton Building.

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS: For questions or comments, please contact Dave Adden: (217) 524-0848 or