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Communications from SPW

Learning Alternative Therapies for Trauma

OTabletop gardening therapy in progressn September 16, we partnered with the Institute for Therapy through the Arts to host an Experiential Learning Conference in Evanston, Illinois. The conference presented a daylong set of hands-on workshops to help participants understand why art and alternative therapies are so effective for people who experienced trauma.

There were about 50 attendees including ITA staff. They included social workers, counselors, and alternative therapy counselors. All have either worked with a client or currently work with clients experiencing some form of trauma.

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The Real Cost of Governor Rauner’s Vetoes

Last Friday afternoon, Governor Rauner took his hatchet to two important pieces of legislation that would have insured vital social supports for some of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens. He vetoed HB 5931, which would have guaranteed a $15/hour wage to those who care for people with developmental disabilities, and SB 730, which would have expanded child care for low-income families.

Gov. Rauner. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

To be fair, the Governor did acknowledge the importance of these services and the sacrifices of those who provide them. But, in the end, he justified the vetoes by saying the State is broke and the bills didn’t provide a funding mechanism. In other words, no child care without a bake sale to pay for it.

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Illinois Needs to Protect Consumers in Wake of Land of Lincoln Debacle

Illinois - Land of Now What?The liquidation of Land of Lincoln Health is just the first of mounting hurdles for Illinois consumers and small-business owners shopping for health insurance coverage in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Not only do Illinois consumers wait longer than others across the country to see annual rate increases, but they also have fewer resources to help navigate the marketplace. The state’s budget morass means the two state agencies charged with protecting consumer interests and helping consumers connect with coverage options—the Department of Insurance and Get Covered Illinois—are underfunded and ill-prepared to serve the public.

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People with Disabilities: Vote as if Your Life Depends on It, Because It Does

Protest sign:  ILLINOIS - Independent Living Legislation Is Not Optional, It's Survival!As recently as the presidential election of 2000, we learned how important a few hundred thousand votes could be. The nationwide gap between candidates totaled just 543,895 votes. According to a recent Stanford Law School study, Contemporary Voting Rights Controversies Through the Lens of Disability, the actual number of potential voters not casting their ballot due to a disability may be five times that number – over 3 million votes not cast in every election for myriad reasons, but primarily because of the lack of accommodation for a disability.

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Outside the “Box”: Living the ADA

Carol Gill and Larry Voss
Carol Gill and her husband, Larry Voss, in 2015. Both had polio very early in life and use wheelchairs

“If you wanted to go anywhere you had to plan ahead, even if it was just to the drugstore. Participating in society – going to a theatre, a restaurant – everything was hit or miss.”

That’s Carol Gill, remembering life before the Americans with Disabilities Act, which turned 25 years old this month.

“You went into a store,” she recalls, “and the aisles were too narrow. And people would give you a ‘dull look’ when you’d point out the aisles were not accessible.”

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Illinois Dodges Disaster on Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling

ACA rally in front of Supreme Court. Signs read Obamacare Awesome, and Protecting Our CareIllinois just dodged a bullet with the outcome of King v. Burwell. If the Supreme Court had ruled against subsidies being challenged in the case, working people and families in the state collectively would have lost more than $49 million a month to help purchase health insurance.

In its decision, the court affirmed the legality of the provision of premium tax credits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in all states, whether they established their own health insurance marketplace or used the federal marketplace. Continue reading “Illinois Dodges Disaster on Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling”

Skip the Platitudes – Honoring Families of the Fallen

Jim Frazier saluting flag
Jim Frazier salutes at a Memorial Day ceremony Photo by Stacey Wescott courtesy of Chicago Tribune

“I never know what to say to the families,” the general said. He was a four-star general in charge of a large Air Force base. But he was – as so of us many are – stumped by this simple human problem: what words to speak when confronted with a wife or husband or parent or a sibling of a service member who had lost their life. And I said, “General, it’s really pretty simple. Use their names. If you know the name, say ’Tell me something about ___.’ And then shut up. And listen.”

The person recalling this is Jim Frazier, a Gold Star dad who works with the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services program. Since losing his own son in Afghanistan, Jim has spent more than a decade helping families of military casualties.

“One of the premises I start with” in working with bereaved families, he says, is that “all we have is memories. People we’ve lost live in our memories, and that way in our hearts.”

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Introducing the Healthy Chicago Hospital Collaborative

Thumbnail of a Chicago hospital community area mapHDA and the Chicago Department of Public Health have partnered to create a new initiative that hopes to maximize the health benefits and services that Chicago hospitals can bring to their communities.

Under the Affordable Care Act, charitable nonprofit hospitals are required to conduct community health Needs assessments and to implement community health improvement plans. The collaborative hopes to help hospitals better improve services for the populations they serve by working together and with other partners to implement plans that address common priorities identified in their assessments.

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Rauner’s Budget is Bad Medicine for State’s Health Services

Gov. Rauner. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The much-anticipated “turnaround budget” from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner feels more like a “look back,” parading out failed ideas from past years. Rauner says this budget “preserves services to the state’s most vulnerable residents”—but a quick review suggests this is far from true. Instead, we see a budget that:

• Further decimates a fragile community mental health system
• Reduces access to lifesaving drugs for people living with HIV and prevention services for those at risk of HIV
• De-funds critical substance-abuse treatments
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“Success Story” Jenny Lay-Flurrie Honored by White House

Jenny Lay-Flurrie leads an innovative technology team at Microsoft despite having been deaf almost her entire life. She was recently named one of the 2014 White House “Champions of Change.” She was recognized as “an example of someone who is not only able to accommodate her disability in the workplace, but was able to turn a disability into an asset.” Continue reading ““Success Story” Jenny Lay-Flurrie Honored by White House”