Group to study racial disparities, language barriers, urban/rural divide and more

CollinsFloorShot1SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) is optimistic that a new task force convened to consider racial and cultural disparities in care for older adults will improve options for an aging population that is increasingly diverse. She also anticipates that the group will keep the spotlight on long-term care after well-publicized cases of abuse and neglect inspired a major overhaul of state nursing home regulations in 2010.

“One of the primary motivations for the nursing home reforms I helped pass was a study showing a wide gap in quality of care between nursing homes whose residents were mostly white and those whose population was disproportionately made up of racial and ethnic minorities,” said Collins, who sponsored legislation creating the new working group. “We need to investigate whether the situation has improved, whether there are similar disparities in other kinds of support services for seniors and what we can do now to safeguard the dignity of all older Illinoisans, regardless of race, language, neighborhood or income.”

The Long-Term Services and Supports Disparities Task Force, whose authorizing legislation was signed into law last Friday, will bring together consumers, advocates and representatives of nursing homes and service providers to compile findings and recommended state actions to reduce unequal care. The task force has been directed to look at residential nursing homes but also assisted living facilities, adult day cares, home health services and other kinds of supports for seniors. The group’s first annual report is due July 1, 2015.

“We owe our elders the respect that comes with skilled nursing care, culturally competent assistance and the assurance that whether they are black, white or brown, living in the urban core or a rural area, they will receive high-quality, compassionate care,” Collins said. “This task force is not designed to be a temporary bandage, issuing one report and then dissolving; it will continue to meet and to exert pressure on behalf of individuals whose voices are too rarely heard.”

052714CM0870“Not enough has been done to keep our young people in the classroom learning. There are no shortcuts. CPS cannot make sustainable gains in attendance without dedicating staff and resources to the problem.”— State Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th)

CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on the final report of the Truancy in Chicago Public Schools Task Force. Collins, concerned about the impact of widespread, chronic absenteeism throughout the state but particularly in CPS, sponsored legislation last year creating the task force and directing it to report back to the General Assembly with findings and recommendations. Senate President John Cullerton appointed Collins to serve on the task force, which held public hearings throughout the spring.

This is a bold, specific, hard-hitting report because it needed to be. Not enough has been done – either in the Chicago Public Schools or in districts throughout the state – to identify and address the root causes of truancy and keep our young people in the classroom learning.

Chronic absenteeism is caused by diverse factors: homelessness, lack of transportation, failure to engage the student, special needs that are not adequately addressed, disciplinary issues and more. A one-size-fits-all approach is simply not good enough. That is why I fully agree with the task force’s conclusion that a permanent statewide commission should be created to monitor progress and continue to address truancy and its causes both in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois.

Attendance is central to education, and we have a moral (and often a legal) obligation to school-aged youth; we cannot give up on them simply because they are not present in the classroom. If there is one lesson we can take from today’s report, it’s that there are no shortcuts. CPS cannot make sustainable gains in attendance without dedicating staff and resources to the problem. I intend to stay engaged with CPS and with my colleagues on this task force so we see real changes made and real improvements in children’s lives and opportunities.

If you would like to read the whole report, please click here.

Clean Water Initiative photo cropCHICAGO - Oak Lawn is receiving a $12.7 million low-interest loan to combat flooding and protect its drinking water through stormwater infrastructure improvements. A law I co-sponsored to expand the state's Clean Water Initiative made this possible, and Gov. Quinn came to the Oak Lawn community to sign the legislation. Oak Lawn has experienced devastating flash floods during the past year. The full infrastructure repair and construction program Oak Lawn has launched will not only improve residents’ quality of life but also create 1,400 jobs.

The Clean Water Initiative, launched in 2012, set aside $1 billion for communities to rebuild or repair wastewater and drinking water systems in order to protect their residents from contaminated water. With urban flooding on the rise, stormwater management has become a critical piece of the puzzle, because floodwaters can compromise drinking water supplies as well as damaging residential and commercial property. I’m proud to have helped expand this successful financing program to allow communities to address their most pressing infrastructure challenges.

Charter school bill signing HB3232CHICAGO — State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) proudly looked on last Thursday as Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law stricter rules governing the way charter schools conduct their admissions lotteries and spend public money. Collins sponsored the legislation, House Bill 3232, in response to high-profile charter school scandals that left families and taxpayers concerned about transparency and accountability in charter education.

“I was pleased to work with educators, school districts and people of goodwill in the charter community who agree that high standards are absolutely necessary whenever public money is being spent,” Collins said.

Earlier this summer, the governor signed another law Collins sponsored on educational choice. House Bill 4591 ensures that state funding stays with students whenever they transfer from a charter school back to a traditional public school operated by a school district, and vice-versa.

Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607


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