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Loophole Allows Unlicensed Homes for Mentally Ill

By Anthonia Akitunde in News on Aug 2, 2009 7:15PM

State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) is one of the legislators who wants Gov. Pat Quinn to eliminate a loophole that allows unregulated group homes to flourish in Illinois. Courtesy of the Illinois General Assembly.
In a chilling report, Chi-Town Daily News found a loophole that allows some of the city’s mentally ill population to live in unlicensed group homes. This discovery has led state legislators to push for eliminating the loophole and adding more regulation and oversight for these types of homes which claim to provide services for the mentally and physically disabled. State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) said he wanted Gov. Pat Quinn to take steps necessary to ending the loophole, Chi-Town Daily reported.

Chi-Town Daily found the loophole while reporting an incident that occurred at Bridging the Gap, a South Side group home for the mentally ill. The home did not contact the family of a missing resident for six days. The resident was found 18 days later after walking 13 miles to a bar in the south suburbs, Chi-Town Daily reported.

Federally funded group homes have to be certified by the Illinois Department of Human Services. Homes that provide nursing care register with the Department of Public Health. Homes like Bridging the Gap, which claims to offer services and does not receive government money, do not have to register for certification or abide by any state regulations. Some legislators have requested more information from the Department of Human Services and are investigating practices in surrounding states.

But Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) wondered if the state’s budget would allow for more regulation of these entities. “Maybe we do need to talk about possibly regulating it, but the problem is, right now, as it exists, we can create legislation and pass it, but with the budget cuts, who's going to go out and oversee it?” [Chi-Town Daily]