4/23/20 - IDHS Weekly Bulletin

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


FOOD BANKS

IDHS was pleased to receive USDA/FNS approval for a Disaster Household Distribution plan, which allows food banks throughout the State to distribute resources to up to 1.57 million Illinoisans in the next 30 days without providing eligibility forms or income verification.

Through the FFCRA, Illinois received a $15M supplement to our annual allocation for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Our 8 provider food banks will distribute those resources to food pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens in their areas. We expect another infusion of supplemental TEFAP dollars in the future through the CARES Act. IDHS also received federal approval last month to implement changes that allow for quicker, safer access to food for more people through TEFAP.

To find a food pantry or soup kitchen near you please visit: www.illinoisfoodbanks.org/sites.asp.


YOUTH INVESTMENT

To ensure that Illinois' at-risk youth population is not being left behind as the State begins to rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic, the State is making an investment that will begin to ensure Illinois' at-risk youth, ages 16-24, have an equitable opportunity to participate in the employment successes of the State. The Illinois Youth Investment Program has been established to empower and support these young people along their path toward successful, long-term, and career employment.

Providers interested in serving our youth by applying for a grant from this program can learn more by clicking here.


SNAP UPDATES

Earlier this week, IDHS announced that Illinois has been approved to provide approximately 316,000 Illinois households with additional SNAP benefits. The USDA authorized and will fund Illinois' Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which will bring food benefits to all school-aged children who are eligible for free or reduced meals. The benefits will be issued to all SNAP households with school-aged children. These new benefits will automatically be added to family Link Cards. All who are eligible for the additional benefits will receive them between April 20th and April 30th.

In addition, IDHS continues to pursue participation in USDA/FNS' SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, which provides for purchase and delivery using the Link Card. However, it will take some time to responsibly implement changes and to ensure that new technological capabilities do not disrupt access to existing benefits. In the meantime, customers are reminded that, where available, SNAP users can shop for groceries online, then pick them up in store or curbside, paying with their Link Card at that time. They can also allow a trusted friend or family member to shop for them using their Link Card and PIN code.


IDHS LOCAL OFFICES

IDHS local offices remain closed to the public to protect the safety of their customers and staff while helping to flatten the curve. Customers are reminded that all benefit application and management actions can currently be accomplished online or via phone. Anyone interested in learning about IDHS services should visit dhs.illinois.gov/helpishere or call toll free at 1-833-2-FIND-HELP (1-833-234-6343). Those who are wishing to sign up for benefits or to manage existing benefits should visit abe.illinois.gov.


PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), in conjunction with the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Services (IARF), will be distributing 16,000 KN95 and/or surgical masks to community-based residential providers, free of charge, across the state of Illinois.

IARF will arrange for provider pick up or will send via FedEx by the provider's expense. Distribution is subject to continued availability and will be based on IDHS-specific guidelines provided to IARF.

To donate personal protective equipment (PPE), please email ppe.donations@illinois.gov.


SHELTER

IDHS continues to prioritize services and programs for people who are experiencing homelessness. To that end, the Department has implemented many step to increase flexibility in the Homeless Prevention program, including but not limited to increased funding, giving a blanket exception to the two-year rule for assistance, allowing providers to help clients even if they are not at imminent risk of homelessness, relaxed eligibility qualifications, and increased rent assistance of up to six months' worth of rent.

While the state is under a Stay at Home order, not everyone has a home to go to. If you feel you are in danger of becoming homeless, please visit housingactionil.org/get-help/resources-homeless. If you are already experiencing homelessness, please visit the Emergency and Transitional Housing Provider List to find a shelter near you.


NON-DISCRIMINATION

IDHS recognizes that now, more than ever, it is our duty to ensure that each person in need of support, care, and comfort can receive services without the worry of being treated differently because of the color of their skin, their disability, or the amount of money they have.

To that end, the Governor's Office and several State agencies, including IDHS, have collaborated to put together a document titled "Guidance Relating to Non-Discrimination in Medical Treatment for Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)" which you can view by clicking here.

This guidance includes recommendations for healthcare providers to ensure that fairness and equity are incorporated into the delivery of care during this time. Whether it is providing a reasonable accommodation, being conscious of our biases, or reaching out to underrepresented communities, there are many steps we can take to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equitably during this public health emergency.


CHILD CARE

IDHS continues to provide child care services through the Emergency Child Care Program. If you are deemed an "Essential Worker" during the COVID-19 emergency, you can find help securing child care by visiting: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/OECD/Pages/For-Communities.aspx.

A dedicated helpline (1-888-228-1146) has also been created to help connect essential workers and families to emergency child care. For residents in Cook County, Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) has launched a temporary text messaging service to answer Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) questions during IAFC's office closure. Parents in Cook County can text 312-736-7390.