EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of outreach columns from the Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
It is officially 2022! Like many, the beginning of the year makes me take a look back on where we came from. Having been in the developmental disabilities field for more than 20 years, I can look back and see the evolution of the system, especially the County Board of Developmental Disabilities system. Many of the changes were outside of the control of the local County Boards, including the Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD), and we are still feeling the impact even today.
For example, in Champaign County, CCBDD ran Lawnview Industries. Operations were based out of a large building on Lawnview in Urbana. People would see buses transporting individuals with disabilities to the building where they would spend their days either in leisure activities or learning valuable vocational skills. CCBDD was a much larger organization then. As years passed, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid decided that County Boards should no longer be permitted to run an adult day program like Lawnview and gave a deadline for the separation or “privatization” of adult day services.
For Champaign County, that meant Lawnview, and its day services would no longer exist in its current form. Individuals who received services there had to choose from other privatized community providers, not affiliated with CCBDD, to get the same types of services. Lawnview still exists as a non-profit board and accepts donations to provide some resources to people with disabilities but no longer delivers any direct services.
What did that mean for the Champaign County Board of DD? It meant that since we no longer provided adult day services, our staff roster shrunk considerably. But that doesn’t mean that there was nothing left for us to do. The remaining staff at the CCBDD still provide important and mandated services such as early intervention, service coordination and community engagement. We may not provide the services directly anymore at Lawnview, but we still fund all provider services and ensure that they have the tools they need to succeed. We work with employers to help people with disabilities obtain work. We help people with disabilities volunteer and access their community. We have Service and Support Administrators who serve caseloads of individuals with disabilities and make sure that they are healthy, safe and have access to resources that they need. In addition, our Early Intervention staff work with babies and toddlers to develop skills and grow. All of these supports are provided at no cost to individuals eligible for our services and are funded through local levies, as well as state and federal dollars.
Things have certainly changed since I got into the field many years ago, but everyone I work with still has a passion for serving people with disabilities. If you would like to know more about what we do at the Champaign County Board of DD, please check out our website at www.champaigncbdd.org and make sure to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/champaigncbdd.org.
Leigh Anne Wenning is the superintendent of Champaign County Board of DD.