Maximizing Talent for People with Disabilities.
A message from the Secretary and the Director…
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has a vision for all people in Illinois to achieve their full potential. The Department is committed to providing equitable access to social/human services, supports, programs, and resources to enhance the lives of those we serve. In 2022, the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS or the Division), a division of IDHS, reinvented and realigned itself to better meet the needs of our customers with disabilities. We are proud to support best practices for equity-related initiatives with a strong commitment to equal employment and educational opportunity in all activities, programs, and services.
In response to the pandemic, DRS reshaped and transformed the way we serve and support our customers, focusing on innovation and, of course, on excellence in care. The Division continued its hard work in 2022, increasing customer contacts and revolutionizing direct services in many ways.
2022 Division Highlights:
- More than 32,000 people with disabilities remained in their homes and out of nursing home care with the support of the Home Services Program.
- Served nearly 200 individuals receiving DDD Waiver funding in customized and supported employment plans. In FY22, DRS was mandated to work with 5 Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRP) who provide Customized Employment services to customers. For FY23, we have increased the number of CRPs to 13.
- Realigned the organizational structure of DRS by re-designating the Illinois Client Assistance Program to Equip for Equality, to serve as an independent ombudsperson, and by creating new Bureaus focused on quality outreach and excellent customer service.
- Increased enrollment across Illinois State schools. Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) saw an 8% increase in enrollment in 2022.
- Built an Equity Model using a social justice framework to support best practices for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Division arranged multiculturalism and diversity training for all local and central staff. In addition, more than 500 DRS staff members attended TransHumility Training provided by Chicago House.
- Organized more than 25 outreach events across the state, such as Coalition of African American Leaders virtual job fair, DRS Virtual Hiring Event, and the Bringing Diverse Skills to the Workplace Webinar series.
- 23% more people came to DRS for expertise and assistance in achieving their work and higher education goals. DRS assisted more than 4,500 customers, including 2,500 youth, in gainful competitive employment.
- Moving Illinois toward competitive integrated employment, DRS partnered with the Illinois Self-Advocacy Alliance, a statewide network of self-advocates, to career counsel people with disabilities who work for the 99 work centers authorized to pay sub-minimum wages by the U.S. Department of Labor.
- 77% rate increase for individuals with traumatic brain injury allowed the Home Services Program to aligned rates for similar services paid by other waiver programs and to correct a 20-year inequity.
- Advancements in the Home Services program further promoted customer choice by approving spouses of customers to be their personal assistants and by improving technology to allow personal assistants to submit their hours worked through the convenience of a cellphone app.
DRS looks forward to closing more gaps in service in 2023 by refining and implementing our Bureau restructure to better serve our customers in diverse, equitable, and inclusive ways. Realigning the Division will allow us to remain focused on and improve upon our service to the community, enhance the disability experience, remain customer focused, and provide excellent, on-time service.
We are proud of the services we deliver. Our services powerfully support and influence individuals with disabilities to live full, abundant lives by helping them achieve their goals of employment, education, and independent living. We want the world to recognize the talent people with disabilities bring to the table, as this talent has the ability to change our future.
We value human dignity, equity, informed community, urgency, transparency, and kindness. Our accomplishments in 2022 highlight our Department's and the Division's pledge to these values. We are ready to serve you. Help is Here.
Grace B. Hou, Secretary
Illinois Department of Human Services
Rahnee K. Patrick, Director
IDHS Division of Rehabilitation Services