The Ligas Consent Degree is a legal agreement that could help your child with special needs receive community services, instead of institutional care. To best understand your child’s rights to certain services, it will be helpful to understand a little more about the consent decree.
Back in 2005, nine people with developmental disabilities filed a class action lawsuit seeking community services from the state of Illinois. The plaintiffs either lived in large state-funded facilities or were likely to be placed in the facilities if they did not receive community services. They were concerned that the community-based settings that were best for them would be unavailable due to lack of funding and space. The lawsuit took a long time to resolve, but by 2011 the judge approved a resolution of the case. The Ligas Consent Decree describes that resolution. As of 2017, nearly 6,000 people had received community services according to the Ligas Consent Decree.
What Kinds of Services Are Available Under the Consent Decree?
The consent decree was intended to help people who want community-based living situations, rather than institutional care. For people living in care facilities (often called ICFs/DD or Intermediate Care Facilities for Persons with Developmental Disabilities) who had requested community-based settings, the decree required that they move out of the facilities and into the community-based settings within six years – so by the year 2017.
Anyone who was already placed in a community-based setting could remain there and receive services from the Illinois Division of Developmental Disabilities. Anyone who was on the waiting list for community-based services or placement was to be gradually be moved off the list by 2017. If you are still on the waiting list today, then the consent decree says that you will get moved off the list at a reasonable pace. The term “reasonable pace” has now been defined by agreement and enforceable by the judge late last year, 2019, as follows: PUNS selections “will be tailored such that by the Fiscal Year 2025 selection, no individual will wait on PUNS for more than 60 months (5 years).”
In addition, the consent decree mandates that people with special needs’ wishes be followed as much as possible without regard to the limitations of existing services. The State still only has to provide services listed in the HCBS Medicaid waiver or Medicaid plan.
Is It Too Late to Request Community-Based Services?
Although some parts of the Ligas Consent Decree have been completed, it is not too late to request community-based services for your child with special needs. If you are still on the waiting list, check frequently for updates. If you have not applied yet, do so as soon as possible. You need to get registered with the PUNS program now because the waiting list for some services is still extremely long, and in some cases the length of time on the PUNS list can determine who gets selected for services first.
Rubin Law is the only law firm in Illinois exclusively limited to providing compassionate special needs legal and future planning to guide our fellow Illinois families of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental illness down the road to peace of mind. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-TO-RUBIN.