Administered by: Bureau of Maternal and Child Health

HealthWorks of Illinois (HWIL) is a collaborative effort between the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The primary purpose of HWIL is to assure that DCFS wards from birth to age 21 who are in substitute care, receive comprehensive quality health care services, as mandated by the BH Consent Decree. HealthWorks is carried out through local health departments, child welfare offices, community based agencies, hospitals, public and private clinics and private physicians.

The program has six key features:

  1. An Initial Health Screening must be completed within 24 hours of a child entering custody and before placement into substitute care;
  2. A Comprehensive Health Evaluation is conducted within 21 days of custody, which includes an Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment program (EPSDT) examination and a vision, hearing, and dental screening when appropriate. Mental health, developmental, and alcohol and substance abuse screenings are performed when appropriate. Referrals for specialized services are made as needed.
  3. A Primary Care Physician is selected for the child by the substitute caregiver. Participating physicians are required to complete a residency that includes pediatric training, offer 24-hour availability and have hospital admitting privileges;
  4. Specialty and subspecialty care is made available including dental care, optometry services and other pediatric subspecialty care;
  5. Medical case managers promote strategies directed at improving access to services identified in the individualized care plan created for each child;
  6. A Health Passport containing information about the child's diagnosis, services provided, immunization records and diagnostic studies serves as a "portable" medical record and follows the child. In addition, physicians use standardized age-specific medical forms.

HealthWorks of Illinois is a statewide network of health care providers. DHS has contracted with 19 local health departments downstate to develop health care networks. HWIL lead agencies are responsible for recruiting primary care physicians and specialty care providers; training the medical case management agencies, DCFS staff, substitute caregivers and providers about the HWIL system; managing the information exchange among agencies; and consulting with DCFS on the implementation of the system. DCFS has contracted with a community agency in Chicago to serve as the lead agency for Cook County.

The HWIL lead agencies have been extremely effective in organizing networks of primary and specialty physicians. Nearly 100% of the approximately 34,000 children in substitute care statewide are enrolled with a primary care physician and have received comprehensive health exams through the HealthWorks system. There are 106 medical facilities downstate that serve as initial health screening providers.


Department of Children & Family Services

Child Care Association of Illinois

Child Welfare

Division of Specialized Care For Children

Early Intervention

Hot Links for Child Welfare


Oral Health

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