The DDD Scoop Newsletter

Employee of the Month

Welcome to the latest edition of the DDD Scoop. I am pleased to announce that Janene VanBebber was selected Employee of the Month for April. She was recognized for taking on the provider enrollment aspect of our Waiver full force, and has become the "go-to" person for everything pertaining to the new Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services' (HFS) IMPACT system. Over the past two months, Janene has been doing everything in her ability to meet every deadline set by HFS. Congratulations, Janene!!!

Independent Service and Support Advocacy (ISSA) Independent Service Coordination (ISC) Transfer Proposal

I'm pleased to announce that we posted a new Information Bulletin on March 21st on Individualized Service and Support Advocacy (ISSA) for review and comment. As you may know, the Division believes all individuals who receive Waiver Services have the right to select their ISC agency. This is true for both initial and ongoing ISSA/ISC services. While the Information Bulletin will contain more details, a short summary follows:

  • The individual and/or guardian is the party that selects the ISSA ISC agency.
  • An individual does not have to justify their decision; it is their right to choose.
  • ISSA ISC agencies will provide information to individuals and guardians regarding the possible ISSA ISC agencies from which they may choose.
  • Conflict Resolution will be offered to any individual indicating a desire to change agencies.
  • Continuity of services will be maintained when a change is made in the ISSA ISC agency.

We are currently reviewing comments received - as the comment period has ended - and we will be issuing the final Bulletin shortly.

Verification of Insurance and Driver's License Information

The Department's Travel Coordinator has sent out a notice to remind employees to submit insurance and driver's license verification information for FY2017. Only employees who are required to travel as part of their job are required to provide this information. Mary Broughton is collecting this information for the Division.

Scheduling the Fish Bowl Conference Room

This is a reminder that when scheduling the Fish Bowl Conference Room, please remember to check the appointment book on the table outside the conference room. If the room is available for your meeting, put the information in the appointment book. Other IDHS tenants at the Centrum Building also use the conference room. Cooperation on this will be appreciated by everyone.

Centrum Parking

The owner of the Centrum Building recently reminded employees that parking is not permitted under the building. These parking spots are intended for the use of patients and other visitors. Employees who park under the building are at risk of having their cars towed. Please use designated street parking or the lot reserved for Centrum tenants.

Human Resources News

The Bureau of Recruitment and Selection has changed its approach on conducting interviews for positions not covered in the bargaining unit. If you apply for a position that is merit comp, you will need to have a current grade with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services for the specific position. Only employees with a current grade will be called for an actual interview. In the past, employees were allowed to go through the interview process without having the grade so long as the employee could demonstrate that a request for the grade had been submitted.

Training News

The Bureau of Quality Enhancement was recently asked about the use of various technologies for conducting remote training. Training via video/Skype/teleconference, etc. is permitted with the following caveats:

  • Competencies would still be assessed objectively through testing.
  • The Skype (or video) training would be limited to the informational modules. (On the Job Training activities may not be completed or monitored via video training.)
  • Direct Support Professionals instructors need to ensure trainees' questions are not inhibited by this process.
  • Instructors need to ensure there is interaction with the trainees during classes so the process does not rely exclusively on testing for assessing progress and understanding.

On the Move

The Division is pleased to welcome two new employees effective April 1, 2016. Audrey Harris-Palmer is joining us as a Social Services Program Planner III in the Bureau of Community and Clinical Services. Audrey will be responsible for the City of Chicago network. Audrey earned her Licensed Practical Nurse certification and later obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Counseling. She has worked for the State of Illinois for 24-1/2 years in a variety of positions. Her experience includes working as Habilitation Program Coordinator (comparable to the QIDP) with people with developmental disabilities, Rehabilitation Counselor/Senior Counselor in the Traumatic Brain Injury program with the Division of Rehabilitation Services, and in the Home Services Program of the Division of Rehabilitation Services.

Also joining the Division is Anne Fitz, the new Statewide Nursing Coordinator. Anne comes to us from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis where she worked as a Nurse Practitioner. She managed patients with diabetes and other endocrine conditions. Prior to that, she worked at St. Louis Children's Hospital in various roles including staff nurse and charge nurse on psychiatric and medical-surgical units, Certified Diabetes Educator, and Nurse Practitioner. She has experience in managing patients in the hospital setting as well as the outpatient clinical setting. Anne holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Nursing from St. Louis University and is certified as a Nurse Practitioner and Diabetes Educator. She grew up in the Springfield area, and has relocated to Springfield to be closer to family.

With the arrival of Anne, the Division thanks Lori Andrew for her willingness to serve as Statewide Nursing Coordinator over the past few months. Lori will be returning to her role as a Nurse Specialist in the Bureau of Quality Review.

Welcome to Audrey and Anne - and thank you to Lori!

Statement of Economic Interest Filing Period

Employees required to file a Statement of Economic Interest should have received an electronic notification of this requirement prior to receiving their form from the Illinois Secretary of State in the U.S. Mail. Only employees with procurement, contractual or regulatory are required to file as are those employees who supervise twenty or more staff. In order to avoid late filing penalties, forms should be completed as soon as possible and returned to the DHS Ethics Officer at 100 W. Randolph Street, Suite 6-400, Chicago, Illinois 60601.

Employee Appreciation Committee Activities

The Employee Appreciation Committee raised $254.00 in proceeds and donations as a result of the March 24, 2016 Bake Sale, and wants to thank everyone who contributed to its success: Bakers and Buyers all! The money raised helps support the employee activities we have been sponsoring in attempts to help improve morale and increase camaraderie.

The Employee Appreciation Committee is planning a fitness/weight loss challenge to run for eleven weeks with weekly weigh-ins on Mondays. The challenge will begin April 4, 2016 with the final weigh-in on June 20. Winners will be determined by percentage of weight loss, not total pounds. If you haven't signed up, please see Gina Hopson-Harris or one of the other Committee members to indicate your interest.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) Friendly Movie Resources

We are pleased to announce that AMC movie theatres has partnered with the Autism Society to present movies in a sensory-friendly environment that is sensitive to the needs of individuals with autism and other disabilities. Theatres are located throughout the country, with 19 locations in Illinois. For more information, the program link is:

Kickstarter Helps Children with Autism

Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. According to its website, it has helped thousands of creative projects come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community.

The Nesel Pack is a backpack specifically geared toward 6-12 year old students with autism. Inspired by existing sensory tools like compression vests and weighted blankets, the Nesel Pack features pouches for weights, different strap options (with fuzzy, comfortable linings), clips for accessories like "chewies" and a very durable base.

The Kickstarter campaign has already reached its initial fundraising goal. People have until April 19, 2016 to make a contribution and receive a pack in the initial distribution. Find more information at:

State Operated Developmental Center News

  • Choate Center - Boiler #1 was repaired at the Power Plant.
  • Fox Center - Individuals celebrated Easter with an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt throughout the campus.
  • Kiley Center - Kiley's annual "Staff vs. Individuals" basketball game was recently played. The Kiley Kroakers basketball team played against Team Staff. Team Staff consisted of Mental Health Technicians, Residential Services Supervisors, Support Service Workers and the Staff Development Director. Kiley's Interim Director started the game off with the jump ball. A riveting game of basketball was played, with the Kroakers trouncing Team Staff 37 to 18.
  • Ludeman Center - The On-Campus Janitorial Training Program conducted by Southwest Community Services began March 23.Ludeman Center recognized Women's History Month with a program on March 30. Dr. Vera Davis was the keynote speaker. The last installment of the Women's History Monthly Book Club featured a lunch-time discussion of Maya Angelou's book Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now.
  • Mabley Center - Individuals enjoyed coloring Easter eggs on March 26.
  • Murray Center - Individuals have enjoyed many interesting outings lately including shopping, church, bowling, a Kaskaskia College baseball game, and a tour of Busch Stadium.
  • Shapiro Center - Twentieth Century Fox Television production company completed its filming on the grounds of the Center. This project was coordinated with the Illinois Film Office.

Organizational Values, Mission, Vision and Culture

Finally, I'm pleased to report that we have started meeting with Division staff to discuss organizational values, mission, culture and vision. Our goal is to galvanize our workforce around a shared vision of the future, and to help staff understand how organizational culture impacts systems change. In January 2015, an Organizational Culture Inventory (OCI) and an Organizational Effectiveness Inventory (OEI) were administered to 35 Division staff to assess the Division's culture and its effectiveness.

This assessment was necessary to determine whether the Division's culture would support or impede systems change efforts underway. The OCI and the OEI revealed below average scores in the area of articulation of mission. In other words, the organizational mission wasn't clearly articulated to staff nor was it clearly understood by employees. As a result, we have assembled work teams to discuss and help us reach a consensus position on values, mission, and vision. In our meetings with staff, we are soliciting input on ideas for increasing their understanding of, commitment to, and positive expectations about change. We are also asking staff to take responsibility for ensuring their work and individual contributions are aligned with Division priorities and generating positive outcomes.

Sometimes it is a lot easier to criticize others and to point fingers about why things are not getting better, then to take a long hard look in the mirror. It is incumbent on all of us who truly care to find the courage to embody the words of Mahatma Gandhi to "be the change that we wish to see in the world".

Have a great weekend!