Top Behavior Health Advocate Group Praises Rauner Approval of Youth DUI Law


Illinois Association for Behavioral Health Vice President for Substance Use Policy Eric Foster

(Springfield, IL) – A top Illinois behavioral health advocated lauded Governor Bruce Rauner’s approval on Tuesday of legislation requiring law enforcement to develop policies to care for intoxicated young people after a D.U.I. arrest, including attempts to contact a responsible adult.

“Providing new, standardized training for local law enforcement across the state on the appropriate police responses to youth arrested for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can potentially help avert individual and community tragedies,” said Illinois Association for Behavioral Health Vice President for Substance Use Policy Eric Foster. “We commend Governor Rauner for signing this measure to help to decrease harm to youth and others.”

The legislation is named after Conor Vesper, a 20-year old college student from Macoupin County who committed suicide hours after a drunk driving arrest. Vesper was the valedictorian of Staunton High School and an active campus leader at Blackburn College where he had earned a full ride scholarship.

“Following an arrest, it is critical that we protect impaired young people while they are still at risk for dangerous decision-making,” said Rauner. “Ensuring law enforcement has thoughtful policies related to the care of individuals under the influence that focus on reaching out to responsible adults will help prevent tragic situations and protect all Illinoisans.”

Conor’s Law requires the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board to develop policies regarding the response and care for intoxicated young people after an arrest.

The bill’s chief sponsor, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), expressed his appreciation to Rauner and cited the bi-partisan effort to advance the legislation.

“I appreciate that Gov. Rauner saw the merit of this bipartisan legislation and chose to make it the law in Illinois,” said Manar. “Well over a year of work went into Conor’s Law and my only hope is that it prevents other families from experiencing the same heartbreak and anguish the Vespers experienced when they tragically lost their son, Conor. The Vesper family should be commended for their determination.”

Foster noted that IABH worked on the bill with Manar and praised the senator for his “thoughtful collaboration.”

“IABH worked with Senator Manar and his staff on the bill,” said Foster. “The senator’s thoughtful collaboration made it a good bill that we could support.”

Illinois Budget Crisis: SchuyIer County Mental Health Center in Danger of Closing by June 1

(Rushville, IL) – As the Illinois legislature struggles to craft a budget by its May 31 adjournment deadline, the Schuyler County Mental Health Center is adding itself to the list of behavioral health centers across the state that is in danger of closing within the next 10 days.

“We have been waiting for multiple payments from the State of Illinois for multiple months and have been unable to consistently meet payroll,” said Executive Director Trent Chockley. “And we’re not only waiting for payment for mental health and substance abuse treatment services, but we also have unpaid bills from the Illinois Department on Aging.”

The agency provides services to nearly 60 people, over the age of 60, every month and the state owes Schuyler a total of $64,000 for just the services provided under the Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Program.

“The State of Illinois continues to add deserving clients to their list that we need to serve, but has no willingness to pay the bills,” said Chockley. “We are dangerously close to shutting our doors for good without payment by June 1.”


Report: 60% of IL Behavioral Health Providers Say Budget Impasse Pushes Out Physicians, Clinical Staff over “Job Insecurities”

IABH CEO Sara Howe

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ behavioral health first responders are abandoning community providers across the state as the state budget impasse has unleashed a “tsunami” of “job insecurities,” according to new a survey.

The Illinois Association for Behavioral Health and the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities on Wednesday rolled out a statewide membership survey that reveals that 60.3% of Illinois behavioral health providers have “lost physicians or clinical staff due to job insecurities.”

“A tsunami of job insecurities is washing over behavioral health providers from Chicago to Cairo and is igniting a brain drain of vital behavioral health first responders for mental health crisis and drug overdoses,” said Illinois Association for Behavioral Health C.E.O. Sara Howe. “When we talk about ‘infrastructure’ collapse because of the Illinois budget impasse, this is what we mean. That is the loss of clinical staff, doctors, and psychiatrists who are no longer willing to endure the chaotic lack of funding.”

The state currently owes behavioral health providers $143 million for Fiscal Year 2017 for services already delivered, stretching back to July 1, 2016, or 90% of the amount budgeted for the current year.

“Worry over whether someone’s job will be around next month or next week is pushing talented clinical staff to find more secure employment,” said Howe. “Who can blame them?”


Drug Treatment Center Collapses; Exasperated Advocates Point Finger of “Moral Culpability” at Illinois Elected Officials

IABH CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) – The slated closure of a Central Illinois addiction treatment center because of Illinois’ budget crisis has pushed exasperated behavioral health advocates to demand that Illinois’ top elected leaders “do their job” or face “moral culpability” for “abetting heroin crisis.”

The Jacksonville-based Wells Center, which provides a 32-inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment program, announced on Friday that it will close in April and layoff all 33 employees.

Wells Center, which serves 500 clients annually, is owed approximately $1.4 million from the state, which provides 70 percent of its funding.

“The Wells Center closure is an another self-inflected wound in a long list of self-inflicted wounds committed by the state’s elected leaders,” said Illinois Association for Behavioral Health CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “We ask our elected leaders to stop marching in parades; stop schmoozing at political fundraisers; stop working the rubber-chicken circuit and, instead, focus like a laser on a budget deal. Period. Nothing else matters.”