The head of a state-funded program whose funding was just cut says the governor is ignoring what lawmakers just passed in the budget fix for the current year. Russell Bonanno, the statewide director of The Autism Program of Illinois, says he was caught off guard by the e-mail he received on Good Friday saying fourth quarter funding was suspended immediately.
"The speaker, when he introduced this fix on the floor, stated that it was his understanding that the fix would allow services for developmental disabilities, mental health, and TAP, to not suffer any funding cuts for this last quarter,Bonanno said.
Bonanno says children in every Illinois county have been helped by TAP, and he doesn't yet know what they will do to offset the cuts.
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Leigh Grannan, director of the TAP Center in Springfield, says in theory, they'd have to shut down or severely cut their services, but that's not right. In the event of an interruption or discontinuation of services, we are required to make timely efforts to continue behavioral therapy services, and taken directly from our code of ethics not abandon clients, Grannan said. And Grannan says therein lies the problem, because there isn'i a list of other clinical providers out there, making transferring services difficult if not impossible.
Erica McAteer has a 5-year-son, Shawn, who is autistic and receives services from the program. McAteer says should the program shut down, Shawn would be at a disadvantage.
For him to not continue with this would be taking multiple steps back, McAteer said. [Autistic] kids do not respond well to change. So, even if there was somebody to pick and take over where [Shawn's therapists] left off, we would be starting at square one.