The Illinois Annual Performance Report (APR) documents performance data on State targets for each Child and Family Connections (CFC) office and state progress or slippage toward measurable and rigorous targets. The Illinois Early Intervention (EI) Program makes the Illinois APR and State Performance Plan (SPP) available on its web site and through links from the other EI web sites (the Illinois Early Intervention Training Program; Provider Connections, the Early Intervention credentialing/enrollment office; and the Early Intervention Clearinghouse). The APR and SPP documents are also available to the public at each of the 25 CFC offices. The APR is presented to the Illinois Interagency Council on Early Intervention (IICEI) for review and comment prior to its submission.
The APR is part of an ongoing process of performance measurement and strategic planning for the Illinois Early Intervention Program. For a number of years, Illinois has been reporting performance data to key stakeholders including the IICEI, the CFC offices, and the general public through various reporting mechanisms. The IICEI receives a data report at each of its meetings. Reports are also provided to IICEI Workgroups. Illinois utilizes a central client tracking system, Cornerstone. No activity can take place without a case being active in Cornerstone. Both CFC office and Department staff can pull reports to track client data. Since January 2002, the program has also utilized a standardized monthly reporting system on a series of performance measures. Since the beginning of SFY 03 (July 1, 2002), Illinois has operated a performance contracting system for CFC offices, based on some of the more important measures found in the monthly statistical reports. These performance measures are also used to identify findings of non-compliance with specific indicators and as part of the process to designate determinations. Other reports to CFC offices include caseload summary and 45 days in intake reports, which allow CFC managers to review service coordinator- and child-specific data. Quarterly, statewide data on the 32 performance measures are posted on the program's website and include comparison data with the previous month, previous fiscal years' averages, and data from the same month in the two previous years.
Illinois has greatly improved its documentation of findings and correction of noncompliance. In FFY06/SFY07, it expanded the process to utilize its data system. A system of identification and correction of noncompliance was developed, but not fully implemented until FFY07/SFY08, due to delays in sending notification of findings to CFC offices. Two sets of findings were sent in FFY07/SFY08 based on April 2007 data and 12-month data ending June 2008. Illinois is now on track to provide timely notification and to monitor and document correction of noncompliance. On August 27, 2009, the Bureau sent a single letter to each CFC office that included the CFC office's determination (in accordance with 616(a)(1)(C)(i) and 300.600(a) of IDEA 2004) and the notification of findings of noncompliance, based upon 12-month data ending June 2009.
Workgroups of the IICEI have been formed to address specific indicators (Service Delay Workgroup and Transition Workgroup) and overall operation issues (Finance Workgroup). The IICEI and these Workgroups help analyze data and suggest improvement strategies.
The Transition Workgroup was formed to review current strategies for improving transition data and determine if there are strategies that will assist Illinois in meeting its targets. Information was gathered from CFCs regarding children who fail to transition prior to the third birthday for family reasons to identify reasons that could be addressed. This Workgroup concluded its work in FFY08/SFY09.
The Finance Workgroup keeps informed on financial issues for Early Intervention and identifies strategies that could help impact them. Workgroup members review the status of payment delays, budget updates, applicable legislation, and operation of the Central Billing Office, including the implementation of a new insurance billing unit.
The Service Delay Workgroup was formed to support improvement activities for Indicator 1. Initial discussions focused on CFC offices #1 and #3, with suggestions based on local dynamics of that area. A Northwest Illinois Service Delay subgroup met specifically to discuss these issues. On January 5, 2009, an interactive forum was held in Rockford including representation from the IICEI and its Workgroups, the Bureau, professional associations, and the local provider community to look at various service delivery models. The Workgroup is developing recommendations that would support an integrated team approach that emphasizes collaboration among members. Representatives from professional associations were added to the Workgroup to involve them in this dialogue.
An Outcomes Advisory Group has reconvened to review strategies and outcome data for child and family outcomes (Indicators 3 and 4) and make recommendations regarding improvement activities, timelines and setting target values for child outcomes. Membership of the advisory group include several IICEI members, including parent representatives, CFC office managers, Early Intervention providers, including representation across professional disciplines, and research and training staff.
During FFY08/SFY09, the Early Intervention program initiated the Program Integrity Project to accomplish statewide program equality; fidelity to program principles and state and federal laws; and long-term program stability. The project will result in long-term changes to the system that will be beneficial for infants and toddlers enrolled in the Early Intervention Program and their families, while ensuring that Illinois remains a responsible steward of the funding available for these services.
- The EI Bureau has been sharing a range of data analyses with the IICEI, its Finance and Service Delay workgroups, and CFC office managers. A pilot has been completed involving a CFC office in suburban Cook County to help identify an approach to promote program integrity. The pilot involved the collection and analysis of data. A plan of training and technical assistance has been developed and is being implemented to ensure that program principles and procedures regarding eligibility determination and service plan development are being appropriately followed.
- A study has been completed and recommendations received on October 1, 2009 regarding an optimal service coordination model for the Illinois Early Intervention Program. Existing data were considered, six focus groups were held, time studies were completed, individual interviews with national experts were conducted, and recommendations were made based upon best practice research. These recommendations are currently being considered.
- As of December 1, 2009, a system ombudsman position was added to the Early Intervention Training Program. The system ombudsman position will analyze data and develop and implement training strategies in support of the Department's Program Integrity Project to accomplish statewide program equality, fidelity to program principles and state and federal laws, and long-term program stability. Activities include: data analysis, coordination of focused monitoring activities, development of strategies to promote compliance with program principles and procedures, report writing, and development and implementation of training strategies. The system ombudsman position will support the Program Integrity Project through data analysis; training and support plan development and implementation, and the transfer of strategies from the pilot sites to other CFC areas. In addition, this position will provide technical assistance and support to the Service Delay Workgroup.