Communication Bulletin (4-10-15)

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

I want to thank all of you who have sent your good wishes and provided invaluable support as I have transitioned into the role of the Acting Director. I look forward to meeting all of you and visiting programs, office areas and developmental centers and seeing first-hand how you make a difference in the lives of those we serve.

As I write this, I am ending my first month as your Acting Division Director. The past four weeks have provided me with many opportunities to learn about the positive impact we have on the lives of the individuals and families of those we serve. There have also been occasions to learn about additional opportunities for us to make a difference. From the moment my appointment was announced, I have received telephone calls and emails from providers and families as well as advocates, legislators, senior staff from other state agencies, and many of you. What I have learned has only reinforced my belief that we can work together to build on our accomplishments - even in the face of the difficult financial situation affecting our State.

If you have been following the news over the last several weeks, then you know all of state government has been focused on the budget. I have attended Appropriations Hearings along with senior staff from our division and agency. I believe our Acting Secretary, Greg Bassi, has done a good job of defending the proposed budget and has communicated how to best carry out the mission of the Department. I must admit that some of the testimonies have been quite moving. Our providers and our customers are concerned about the impact our State's fiscal crisis will have on the services we provide - especially after the Governor's difficult decision to cut certain grant funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. Every call and letter requires a response within a short time frame, and many of you have played a role in addressing these issues. There have been many requests for meetings, and Mary Broughton has performed the work of a magician in order to accommodate these on my schedule. I have learned about potential partnerships with other agencies in the areas of housing and employment and have also met with advocates and trade associations who want to further educate me on their missions and objectives.

  • One father attended a hearing with his young daughter because he wanted her to hear first-hand how he was advocating for services for her; he wanted her to know how much he loved her. After making that statement, his daughter placed her head on his shoulder and it moved me to see so much love between a father and a daughter. Trust me, the hearings have been far from a day at the beach, but that "Kodak moment" was truly worth the price of admission.
  • Not all my time has been taken up with stakeholders. We have initiated a weekly senior staff meeting where we spend part of our time talking about the five or six most important things each of us needs to do for the coming week. The result is that everyone knows what everyone else is working on and allows ideas to flow while reducing duplication of effort. With the assistance of Bronwyn Rains, we have been able to schedule group meetings with Central Office and Network staff to discuss the results of an Organizational Culture Inventory® and the Organizational Effectiveness Inventory® survey that was administered to 35 staff in January. The results provided an indication of the necessity for organizational development and change and we are working on ways to move our organizational culture toward the ideal. For those of you in the State Operated Developmental Centers, Jerry Stam is working with Bronwyn to be able to offer these surveys to you at some point later this year.
  • On Tuesday, April 7th, I had a chance to participate in the Annual Chili Cook-Off in the Centrum Building, in Springfield. It was an enjoyable event, and I felt obligated to sample several of the dishes and to submit a vote on the best Chili dish. Chris Bourn did a great job of organizing this event, and the turnout was extraordinary.

    I would like to schedule more events like this in the future, particularly Employee Appreciation events to let staff know how much we appreciate their many contributions. I firmly believe that the more time we spend with each other in relaxed settings, the more we'll come to realize that we have a lot more in common than things on which we differ.

  • Earlier in this note, I referenced the follow-up meetings to discuss the survey administered to Central Office and Network staff. These meetings have made it clear that the division's reorganization plan was not as transparent as we would have liked. We received many meaningful comments about the reorganization - including some that expressed an opinion of "what's the point of my saying anything? Everything has been decided…this is just lip service." Nothing could be further from the truth. While organization charts have been drafted, nothing is cast in stone at this point. We are interested in your opinions as to how we can operate as effectively as we can. Although the deadline to send your comments to Bronwyn Rains was yesterday, we have extended the deadline to April 14 in order to capture as many of your ideas and thoughts as possible. If you haven't provided input, here's your chance!

Many staff have devoted long hours to the development of the reorganization plan. At the same time, some critical vacancies within our division have gone unfilled. Senior staff have been asked to identify key vacancies within their areas, and we will be focusing efforts on filling as many of these positions as we can.

We have a great organization made up of many dedicated people. Some of you have mentioned that you would like to have a better understanding of the functions of the various bureaus/areas within our division along with who does what. We are working on putting some information together that we should all find useful. In the meantime, I thought you would be interested in updates from some of our operational areas.

Budget (Dan Blair)

The FY16 proposed budget maintains the Agency commitment to transitioning individuals with developmental disabilities from long-term care facilities to person-centered community-integrated services in compliance with the Ligas Consent Decree. The budget request includes $5.3M for annualization of the FY15 transitions from institutional settings and 100 new SODC transitions in FY16, $4.0M for transitions of DCFS wards to adult services and $16.7M for Ligas expansion through the Balance Incentive Program (BIP).

The rates for services provided by Intermediate Care Facilities are reduced by 12% or $41.6M.

The proposed FY16 budget discontinues $17.8M in Non-Medicaid grant programs including:

  • ARC Lifespan ($ 482.2K)
  • Best Buddies ($1.0M)
  • The Autism Program ($4.3M)
  • Dental Grants ($986.8K)
  • Epilepsy Grants ($2.1M)
  • Respite, including Group and Voucher Grants and Billable Respite ($8.9M)

Employment First - (Daryl Jackson)

In keeping in step with the nation's Employment First movement, the State of Illinois Employment First Act was signed into law on July 16, 2013. The Act establishes as state policy that, "Competitive and integrated employment shall be considered the first option when serving individuals with disabilities of working age." It also requires "all state agencies to follow this priority and ensure that it is effectively implemented in their programs and services." To further move Employment First towards reality in Illinois, an executive order was issued on June 3, 2014 implementing Employment First in Illinois.

Ligas Consent Decree (Reta Hoskin)

We continue to surpass the benchmarks put forward in the Ligas Consent Decree for serving Class Members.

  • Current Class Members Served as of April 1, 2015 Next Benchmark Next
  • 2,262 from PUNS Waiting List 2,000 June 30, 2015
  • 1,125 or 82.78% Residing in ICFs/DD 66% of Known Class Members Identified as of June 30, 2015 December 31, 2015
  • Division staff are meeting with Plaintiffs and the Court Monitor on April 20, 2015, to identify strategies to facilitate services for Class Members selected who have not yet received services.
  • The next meeting of the Ligas Family Advisory Council is scheduled for April 21, 2015.

Bureau of Quality Management (Joe Turner)

At the request of the Life Choices' teams, the results of agency specific review findings and recommendations will be shared with the respective Individual Service Coordination (ISC) agencies. Specific to the BQM review, ISCs should anticipate receiving copies of one or more of the following documents:

  • CILA Review Tool
  • Developmental Training Tool
  • Child Group Home Tool
  • Rule 116 Review Tool (when applicable)

Note: BQM's practice of reporting on non-identifying summaries of the most frequent review findings and recommendations will continue, and the Division will maintain the practice of posting provider scores and administrative actions on the DHS website at:

Community Services (Mary Spriggs-Ploessl)

Community Services staff were recently presented with a challenging situation. JS, 53 years old and diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability, was the subject of a recent investigation by Adult Protective Services (APS). APS was notified due to concerns about JS's living environment. Neglect was substantiated as the home was found to be in deplorable conditions (i.e., animal feces, garbage, clutter and bad odor throughout the house as well as inoperable toilets).

Temporary guardianship was deemed necessary, and the Office of State Guardianship assumed this role. JS was brought to a local hospital for medical evaluation per Office of State Guardian protocol. The hospital kept JS for observation and treatment over a ten day period. He could not return home and was considered to be homeless. Staff worked non-stop to identify a residential provider for JS. A CILA provider in Sterling indicated its interest in serving JS. JS and his guardian agreed with the placement. DD was able to issue the pre-award letter and transition him directly from the hospital to his new CILA home.

In this challenging case, the one thing that was apparent was the caring, commitment and professionalism on the part of Community Services staff and Division Leadership.

SODC Operations (Jerry Stam). Some recent incidents at the Murray Developmental Center have required the presence of a management team to assess the efficacy of services and service delivery systems at the Center, particularly those systems that protect individuals and prevent negative outcomes. The team's review will include, but not be limited to, the following services, protection entities and systems of care: Governing Body; Client Protections; Facility Staffing; Health Services; Dietary Services. This team is being overseen by Acting Deputy Director Jerry Stam and is made up of the following Division staff: Lana Waselewski, Center Dir., Fox Center; Tiffany Bailey, Center Dir., Mabley Center; Glenda Corbett, Center Dir., Ludeman Center; Bryant Davis, Center Dir., Choate Center; Brenda Chapman, AA1, Shapiro Center; Donna Day, PSA, Shapiro; Kim Hetherington, Fox Center; Theresa Smith, SPDA, Choate; Cheryl Muckley, PSA Choate; Chris Doctorman, Chief Engineer Choate; Jon Van Winkel, SSP III, BQ; Michele Beavers, RN, BQM; Deon Miles, DON, Ludeman; Stacey Willard, DON, Choate; David Hetherington, Quality Assurance, Ludeman; Vanessa Wallace, MH. Adm., Ludeman; Kelly Sullivan, MHA, Mabley; Rick Brand, RSS, Ludeman; Dr. Vera Davis, Med. Dir. Ludeman; Michele Baldwin, Staff Dev. Specialist, Shapiro; Cindy Durnbaugh, AA1, Shapiro; Tashia Boyd, MH II, Ludeman; Karen Boyd, PSA, Choate; Melinda Miller, QIDP, Choate; Luke McGill, RSS, Choate; Julie Yana, LPN/AA1, Choate; Melissa Costello, MH specialist 1, Ludeman; Harry Mitchell, QIDP, Ludeman; Sean Walsh, psychologist, Ludeman; Betty Bowling, psychologist, Ludeman; and Barb Foster, SPSA, Shapiro.

I want to thank these staff members for their commitment to the Division and for their professionalism.

Finally, let me say that during my brief stint as the Acting Director, it has been quite apparent that there is a wealth of talent at every level in our Division. One of our goals is to take full advantage of that talent to enhance our service delivery systems and to make sure that we are making the most effective and efficient use of our precious resources. To that end, we want to make sure all staff in leadership positions are oriented in a management philosophy that promotes the interests of staff members while concurrently creating strong lines of commitment and accountability.

Communication will be critical to keep staff updated on Division priorities, to solicit staff input, and to facilitate staff "buy-in" and ownership of Division initiatives. As you've heard me say on more than one occasion, knowledge and information are empowering. As such, to the extent that we effectively communicate with staff and keep them apprised of what's going on in our system, we empower them to do their jobs competently and diligently.

Today's Communication Bulletin recognizes only a small number of the many accomplishments and projects currently underway. As I travel throughout the State, I hope to have more occasions to hear your ideas about what we're doing right and what we can do better. My door is always open - and I welcome the opportunity to learn more from you and grow with you.


Greg Fenton