This case challenges the unnecessary segregation and institutionalization of people with developmental disabilities in large intermediate care facilities when they could be better served in smaller, community settings.

In June, 2011, the court approved a consent decree which permits all individuals represented in this case to move out of the institutions and live in community-based settings if they choose to do so. The settlement also required that over five years 3,000 people living at home be offered the opportunity to receive community-based services. After the first six years, the parties were to agree to a reasonable pace for moving people off the waiting list for receipt of community services.  A monitor was appointed by the court to work with the parties to ensure implementation of the agreement.

Thousands of class members have been offered community services under this Decree, with many of these moving out of large institutions. In August 2017, the federal district court ruled that the State of Illinois was out of compliance with the consent decree because class members were not receiving the level of services and assistance guaranteed by the decree, owing largely to the lack of in-home care assistants available to assist class members living in the community. This lack of adequate care was due in large part to the fact that the State had not increased pay for these workers over a number of years. We and our co-counsel, along with the court monitor have negotiated and reached agreement on steps to be taken by the defendants to remedy these failings. We have also negotiated a plan for the future numbers of persons to be served at a reasonable pace from the waiting list over the next 5 years. We, the court, and the Monitor will continue to monitor and review the defendants’ actions under this new plan to assure continued progress in both the quantity and quality of services offered to class members.


Heidi Dalenberg

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Equip for Equality, Dentons

Date filed

July 28, 2005


Northern District of Illinois


Sharon Johnson Coleman


Active (under consent decree)

Case number

05 CV 4331