Letter to the Editor

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Many students are excited to see the end of May, as it brings the promise of relief from school work. For many of New Trier’s ELS students, however, the end of May brings big changes for their families.

Many students at New Trier participate in the ELS program as guides, mentors, and friends to those with special needs. But at the end of the month, the Illinois General Assembly may choose to pass Governor Rauner’s budget for 2016, which includes budget cuts to special-needs funding, which will greatly affect our families here in the ELS program.

These cuts will shut down many services they need, including the elimination of the respite care program, which provides money to families to help pay for services like caretakers, recreational programs, and medications. All in all, supporting kids with special needs can cost as much as $2.3 million per child from infancy to adulthood.

These cuts will significantly reduce the amount of money and aid families receive, and the cuts could really hinder children’s growth.

As a friend to many of the kids in the ELS program, I care very deeply about this issue and don’t want to see their families suffer. While I understand that there is a huge problem with the Illinois budget, I don’t believe that families that already struggle should have to struggle even more for the sake of everyone else.

As part of my semester project for the Integrated Global Studies School (IGSS), I teamed up with Casi Radulovic to lobby against this proposed budget plan. We went out into the community and interviewed families around the area that receive money through the respite program to understand their point of view.

We talked with the leaders at many non-profit organizations like Glenkirk and the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (IARF) and got them to work with us on this issue. We contacted members of the General Assembly and got them to help us with this issue. Everywhere we went, we heard the same thing: this is a real problem, and we need the voice of the community to help fight this budget.

It’s important to stand up for causes we believe in. These cuts are going to affect the families of my friends, and I think that’s wrong. These families need aid, whether that be through money or time or services, and these cuts will put an additional burden on families who already need extra help.

If you would like to add your voice, you can contact your local representatives, or members of the Human Services Committee in the Illinois General Assembly.

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