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League sets forum on disabilities service board

BATAVIA – The League of Women Voters of Central Kane County is hosting a public forum at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Batavia Public Library, 10 S. Batavia Ave., regarding a proposal to establish a Developmental Disabilities Services Board for Kane County.

The forum is intended to inform the public about an anticipated spring referendum that seeks a 0.1 percent property tax that would raise about $12 million per year to provide disability services for children and adults born with a developmental disability, such as with Down syndrome, autism or intellectual disability, defined as those with an IQ of less than 70.  

If the question passes, the disabilities board, appointed by the county board chairman, would administer the money to help with housing, advocacy, job coaching, transportation and support with daily living for Kane County residents.

About 10,000 county residents will need help all their lives and 10,000 will need help occasionally, supporters said.

League Voter Service Chairwoman Patricia Lackman of Batavia said the league is very involved in mental health and developmental disabilities issues.

“Because they need to be informed about the fact that Kane County has no unified agency for people with developmental disabilities,” Lackman said. “We are all over the board. We really, really, really need to focus our attention on forming one unit.”

The petition drive, Show We Care Kane, failed to get the required 19,000 signatures to put a county-wide referendum on the ballot last spring. 

Although the Kane County Board could have put the question on the ballot, its Executive Committee voted it down, prompting supporters to continue collecting signatures. 

Candy Goldstein of Geneva, a member of the league and the Geneva Mental Health Board, said volunteers collected about 30,000 signatures – more than enough to get the question on the March 18, 2014, general primary ballot – and to withstand any challenges.

Goldstein is the parent of a 23-year-old developmentally disabled son.

“It could really make a big difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities,” Goldstein said.

The tax would also provide funding for local organizations that serve people with developmental disabilities, Goldstein said.

Two speakers scheduled that night are Charles Miles of Geneva, and Corinne Pierog of St. Charles.

Miles is a member of the Geneva Mental Health Board and father of an adult daughter with developmental disabilities.

Pierog was a Democratic candidate who lost to Jim Oberweis in the race for state senate in the 25th District.

Goldstein said she is hopeful for voter support, once they can see the gap in services for adults with developmentally disabilities, once they are 22 and age out of special ed services.

“I passed that petition,” Goldstein said. “I stood outside a polling place and the people who pulled it out of my hands were special education teachers. The special ed system is fine – it’s what comes after that isn’t working at all. Each family feels like they’re on their own.”

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