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Day Two: Action Week for Illinois Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA)


October 13, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Action Week for Illinois Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA): Day Two

Access Living friends and allies:

Today is Day Two of Access Living’s Week of Action to support the Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA). Today we are asking Illinois human service professionals, human service providers, and emergency responders to speak out regarding the need for 911-level emergency response for mental/behavioral crises that does not involve police. Your voices are needed!


  • CESSA is an Illinois state bill (HB5009/SB3449) that aims to increase coordination for 911-level emergency services in order to create a statewide mobile response option for mental and behavioral health crises.
  • This mobile response would not involve police.
  • CESSA was developed by the members of Advance Your Leadership Power (AYLP), Access Living’s disability and racial justice organizing group, over the past four years.
  • CESSA is NOT based on a co-responder model, (where police are accompanied by social workers).
  • Instead, CESSA aims to take the load off law enforcement with improved response to non-violent emergency situations.

Learn more about CESSA here.

To participate in today’s personal testimony day: Visit this link and scroll to the end to submit your personal testimony. There are also a lot of great ideas for sharing your personal testimony on social media as well; be sure to use the hashtag #SupportCESSA! You can also submit a video, too.

Why are testimonies from professionals and emergency responders important?

  • Mental/behavioral health professionals and emergency responders are the front line of help for people with disabilities in crisis. They are the ones who have seen what happens when a crisis is not de-escalated, and the person is not helped appropriately.
  • On the streets, emergency responders are the ones who see the direct consequences of criminalizing disability-related behaviors.
  • For many people with disabilities in mental/behavioral crisis, police involvement can sometimes escalate the crisis, with deadly consequences.
  • Although there is an effort in many communities to train police with Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), that is not always enough. A non-police involved immediate response needs to be an option.

We’re looking forward to working with you to #SupportCESSA and get the word out before the Illinois veto session in mid-November. Help us raise awareness about why communities need non-police emergency response options for people with disabilities in crises!

Virtual Lobbying Week Schedule

  • October 12: Advocate Personal Testimony Day
  • October 13: Emergency Responder/Professional Testimony Day (TODAY!)
  • October 14: Illinois House Advocacy Day
  • October 15: Illinois Senate Advocacy Day
  • October 16: Governor of Illinois Advocacy Day
  • After our Week of Action, join us for an online mobilizing meeting. Date TBD.

Thank you for your advocacy.