DRS is charged with delivering services and supports to assist individuals with disabilities in achieving their goals of employment, education, and independent living. No one anticipated that a once-in-a-lifetime crisis would fundamentally alter our world, but crisis also brought an opportunity to reinvent and restore the Division's commitment to its customers, providers, staff, and partners. Over the last year, DRS staff have effectively transitioned programs to a remote environment in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and made incredible progress. Just as the pandemic continues to evolve right before our eyes, DRS will continue to adapt to its environment. As we look to build a sustainable future, the Division remains committed to leveraging the many talents of staff and community partners in working toward the following goals:
- Ensuring the continued growth of the Home Services Program to help individuals achieve and maintain their independence, to maintain timeliness of required assessments, and further invest in modernizing the program.
- Expanding the Vocational Rehabilitation program:
- Striving to achieve 6,000 successful outcomes.
- Leveraging outreach efforts promoting the Vocational Rehabilitation program as inclusive to all Illinois citizens with disabilities, targeting underserved groups such as people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community.
- Expanding Trial Work Opportunities to improve behaviors and job skills that will lead to paid employment.
- Developing a more robust Supported and Customized Employment program for individuals with most significant disabilities.
- Contacting up to 100,000 youth with disabilities to explore opportunities in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
- Guiding and supporting individuals with disabilities as the State eliminates the practice of entering into contracts with vendors in the State Use Program who pay individuals with disabilities a subminimum wage.
- Developing a state of the art Small Business Enterprise Program for the Blind which will include, but not be limited to integration of touchless vending machines, introduction of new products in targeted test areas and plans for a vigorous marketing and outreach plan designed to increase the number of vending sites and blind business managers.
Achieving these goals will be challenging, but as we continue to adapt and thrive in our constantly changing environment, we will be uniquely situated to meet the needs of our customers, providers and other partners in a manner consistent with their goals. We look forward to an exciting year ahead; we hope to build on the successes we've recently experienced, and reach new heights in our efforts to ensure that people with disabilities across our state have the services and supports they need to maximize their independence at home, in the community, and at work.