IDHS ALL IN! Stakeholder Newsletter Issue 10

Message from the Secretary

Dear Partners,

It continues to be a hopeful time as Illinois deploys vaccinations across the state as vaccine supplies ramps up. As you may have heard, IDHS has tried to play a part in supplementing and supporting vaccination efforts in Illinois. In this regard, I wanted to share with the details of my recent visit to one of our community providers, Trinity Services, who stepped up in dramatic ways to be a partner to us and so many others.

On a cold Wednesday morning in February, I was greeted by Art Dykstra in the parking lot. Behind our masks were huge smiles as we had not seen each other in person for almost nine years; we bumped elbows as we made our way into the building. Art is the former executive director of Trinity Services; and his legacy of leadership, grace, and generosity has been firmly implanted in the organization's DNA. He came to meet me for my visit to Trinity's new apartment complex that will soon open to be the home for people with disabilities. The opening was delayed, because Trinity Services, now led by Thane Dykstra, offered its space, staff, capacity, and resources to help IDHS offer two vaccine clinics for its peer organizations. There were other players that made this happen - Kodiak Pharmacy and the Saint Francis University Nursing program. Together, these vaccine clinics included 22 organizations across the region reaching over 500 CILA residents and staff.

I was able to witness this amazing partnership in action. When CILA residents and staff pulled up in their vans, they were greeted, and administrators ensured that their paperwork was in order. Once this was completed, they parked and entered the building. They were escorted to an apartment unit where they waited for their shots. Some nursing students were drawing vaccine from the vials into the syringes on the main floor, and other students were administering them in the different apartment units. Once the shots were completed, the residents and staff exited the side door to ensure that there was no unnecessary interaction with other people.

At the end of the day, there were excess doses due to last minute cancellations and more doses per vial than anticipated. The IDHS leads, Carolyn Cochran Kopel and Dana Kelly, with Thane called their back up lists of 1A and 1B people to come get their shot. Amongst those that were able to appear were two individuals over 80 years old. At the end of the day, I am proud to share that not one shot was wasted.

I can't do justice in words what I was able to witness. My heart was bursting with pride and joy to see the generosity of the human spirit. Partnership is a word too easily used. In this instance, we see the gold standard for this word. Those 500 people would not have received their COVID-19 shot if it were not for every organization who contributed their part. Further, we saw good and tenacious government in action through the leadership of our team. Their relentlessness and ingenuity in pursuit of a solution is a shining example of why government matters.

IDHS values and cares deeply for the people of Illinois, for its providers, and those we and they serve. We were glad to have leveraged our capacity to vaccinate our own staff and residents and patients in our facilities and hospitals to expand beyond our own walls. As you can see, we can't do that alone.

In the coming weeks, IDHS will continue to expand its vaccination capacity to reach those we support who have the highest barriers to vaccination access and the highest risk to infection.

As always, thank you for your work. I hope that you have been able to celebrate Black History Month in some way throughout your organization. We, at IDHS, has used this as a time to recognize the great accomplishments of Black and African American leaders and to wrestle with the work at hand as we strive toward racial justice.

Continue to be well and take good care.



Grace B. Hou,

Secretary, IDHS

IDHS Celebrates Black History Month

Black History Month

We are closing out our Black History Month celebration focusing on CHANGE!

"I am and always will be a catalyst for change." Shirley Chisolm, Delta Sigma Theta

"Don't just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference." Denzel Washington, Omega Psi Phi

In rounding out our celebration of Black History, we celebrate CHANGE with a focus on the history of Black sororities and fraternities, and how they foster sisterhood and brotherhood in the pursuit to bring about social change through the development of social programs that create positive change for Black people and the country.

Since their inception, for 115 years, Black sororities and fraternities have been addressing issues that impact the Black community, promoting service, scholarship, and fellowship to each other and to their communities. The groups provided a network of support and a collective voice in the civil rights movement, past and present.

They are commonly known as The Divine 9:

  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity: First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority: By Culture and By Merit
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity: Training for Leadership since 1911
  • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity: Friendship is Essential to the Soul
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority: Intelligence is the Torch of Wisdom
  • Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity: Culture for Service and Service for Humanity
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority: Scholarship, Sisterly Love, Service, Finer Womanhood
  • Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority: Greater Service, Greater Progress
  • Iota Phi Theta: Building A Tradition, Not Resting Upon One

Some of Illinois' very own leaders are members of a Black sorority or fraternity:

First Black person elected to statewide office in Illinois, serving first as Comptroller and then as Attorney General, Former US. Senator Roland Burris, Alpha Phi Alpha

  • Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Secretary of State Jesse White, Kappa Alpha Psi
  • Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Kappa Alpha Psi
  • House Speaker Emmanuel "Chris" Welch, Alpha Phi Alpha

We also recognize the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, and the Urban League, all organizations that worked to galvanize grassroots community efforts and demanded change to take place locally and nationally for people of color.

Let's all continue to work within and serve our COMMUNITY, recognize the significant impact our CULTURE has had on society, and Lift Our Voices for continued CHANGE for ourselves and future generations.

IDHS Vaccinations Continue!

Secretary Hou - Taking the IDHS Pledge to get Vaccinated

This week we marked another milestone with COVID-19 vaccination efforts across the state. As supply allows, local health departments and other vaccination providers are now able to expand vaccination to people who are part of Phase 1b Plus. As Governor Pritzker announced earlier this month, Phase 1b Plus includes both people with disabilities and people who have comorbidities and underlying conditions as defined by the CDC.

The Pritzker Administration is working with local health departments and other providers across the state to include these additional higher-risk individuals in their community vaccination plans in the weeks ahead.

This expansion applies to individuals 16 and older who aren't otherwise covered in previous eligibility categories. In accordance with the CDC guidelines, Illinois is using the below guiding framework for what qualifies as a disability, a comorbidity, or an underlying condition under Phase 1b plus.

Priority 1b Plus Population Description:

  1. Persons with a disability: For this purpose, a person with a disability is defined as a "person who is, and who is expected to indefinitely continue to be, subject to any of the following five types of disabilities: physical disability, developmental disability, visual disability, hearing disability, or mental disability." This definition is aligned with Illinois Statute: 15 ILCS 335/4a.
  2. Persons with comorbidities or underlying conditions:
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Pulmonary Diseases
  • Smoking
  • Heart Conditions
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Cancer
  • Solid Organ Transplant
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Pregnancy

We also encourage you to visit for the most up to date information regarding vaccine efforts. If you are in Group 1b Plus, please visit to register to get vaccinated. If you have questions, please email

As we work in conjunction with IDPH on vaccine efforts, we encourage you to continue to follow IDPH COVID-19 guidelines for your health and safety.

In the Spotlight

LaTanya Law, Interim Assistant Director, Division of Family and Community Services

What inspired you to work for the State of Illinois?

My inspiration was from one of the most beautiful women in this world, my mother. She is a retired state of Illinois employee, and I was fascinated at watching her go to work. She helped the less fortunate and gave a voice to those who seemed voiceless even when they screamed.

What's something you want to do in the next year that you've never done before?

I'm taking the LSAT in April for law school.

What's the greatest advice you've ever received?

To always judge people based on your interactions with them and not other opinions.

What's your favorite quote from a TV show, movie or musical?

"The more music you have in the world, the fuller it is." - Ma Rainey

What message would you like to share with our stakeholders?

This 27-year journey in public service has been an amazing experience. I have worked with the best people and hope that when this pandemic is over, we all see how important and powerful we are together.

Bright Spot: IDHS ERP Project Team

Like any business organization, it is imperative that we work to streamline processes that allow us to reallocate time, save dollars, and improve the user experience for our employees. Based on previous audit results, IDHS and the State have been able to find areas where efficiency and upgrades could be implemented. The audits found that Illinois had 260 individual financial reporting systems, creating a "patchwork" of reporting methods that hindered accurate financials. As a result, IL ACTS was implemented, which created a State-wide endeavor to upgrade and standardize the State's core business software systems with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) package to improve efficiency, and to be a catalyst for State-wide transformation of all administrative services. Today, it brings me joy to highlight our IDHS team's contributions and the overall process.

To roll out the new system, an implementation team representing multiple State agencies, including IDHS, was created. The IDHS team includes 40+ leaders and "super users," and 30+ "change champions." Assisting the IDHS team is the State IL ACTS team, and third-party team members from Deloitte Consulting and McKinsey Group. With their work on ERP, we will now have an integrated suite of business applications covering broad and deep operational end-to-end processes, such as those found in finance, HR, distribution, manufacturing, service, and the supply chain. This update will impact over 550 IDHS employees who use CARS, WCS, EIS, CCS, and RPS systems.

As one could imagine, overhauling a system of this magnitude during a pandemic did not come without its challenges and obstacles. Efforts to roll out the SAP ERP system started in 2016, which allowed the team to work closely together on tasks like system development, user acceptance testing, and training staff. However, with social distancing and remote work guidelines in place, new methods, such as virtual "Situation Rooms" had to be created. In addition, WebEx is being used for meetings, demonstrations, collaborations, testing, and all related tasks that would have been completed in person. In addition to those resources, staff impacted by these changes will receive training through the summer, and will also have access to IDHS "super users" who will be able to provide guidance on day-to-day routines of the system.

The SAP ERP has already rolled out to 50 agencies, and the Financial ERP roll out will happen in two phases. In Phase 1, beginning April 1, the new system will be made available to new users to begin entering contracts and grants for Fiscal Year 2022. In Phase 2, beginning July 1, nearly all staff will start using the system. Data from the replaced systems will still be available for reports and audits, but all new work will be done in the new system.

This has been an ongoing project for our IDHS project team, and the other leaders on the implementation team. We thank each of you for your dedication, attention to detail, and patience. I am excited about the impact of this new system, and appreciate all of your hard work in getting us here.

Work for IDHS!

Join Our Team

IDHS is hiring! Please visit the Illinois state jobs' website for all of the IDHS positions that are currently available.

Please also see the list below for additional positions we have open.

  • Deputy Director of Community Services Programs - Chicago or Springfield
  • Hearing and Speech Specialist Opt. MCB - Kankakee
  • Registered Nurse I - Alton, Centralia, Chester, Dixon, Elgin, Park Forest, Waukegan
  • Registered Nurse II - Dwight, Centralia
  • Social Services Career Trainee - Statewide
  • Rehabilitation Counselor Trainee - Statewide
  • Social Worker II (Bilingual Spanish & English) - Hines, Elgin
  • Social Worker II - Chester
  • Cook I - Alton

If you or someone you know is interested in one of these positions, please email your resume to