A Look into the Future

IDHS-DRS made great strides in 2023 and we look forward to the continued delivery of excellent supports and services to Illinoisans with disabilities in 2024. The Division remains committed to enhancing the quality of life of our constituents by building services and programs that allow people with disabilities opportunities for meaningful participation and inclusion in their community and through employment. IDHS-DRS has outlined the following goals for FY 2024:

  1. Increase Equity in Employment and Housing
    1. Respond to internal and external feedback from employees, customers, and constituents:
      • Implement recommendations from Boston Consulting Group
      • Implement recommendations from the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment
      • Launch a third customer satisfaction survey and adjust to feedback.
    2. Create equity and unity throughout DRS.
      • Fill vacancies from retirees with qualified employees.
      • Revise/update the MOUs with DDD and ISBE
  2. Increase Reach of the IDHS-DRS
    1. Increase outreach and services to adults with disabilities.
      • Fully utilize federal dollars to assure zero dollars lapse in the VR program.
      • Open all four categories under the Order of Selection, opening the doors to more Illinoisans with disabilities who have the desire to work.
      • Apply uniform and consistent criteria for services to reduce the number of prematurely closed VR cases.
      • Improve office locator online search mechanism.
    2. Increase outreach and services to youth with disabilities.
      • Reach 100K disabled students.
      • Engage youth and adults working under SMW- through the SWTCIE IL demonstration project.
      • Engage youth at an earlier age providing Pre-Employment Training Services.
  3. Increase Awareness and Inclusivity
    1. Improve the landscape to incentivize employment for Illinoisans with disabilities.
      • Passage of the Dignity in Pay Act
      • Passage of the Economic Freedom Act in Illinois
      • Include retirement accounts as exempt assets in the IDHS-DRS Home Services Program.
      • Improve IDHS-DRS self-employment processes and opportunities.
    2. Increase awareness of IDHS-DRS services and who DRS serves.
      • Incorporate outreach to local high schools, colleges, and universities.
      • Ensure key staff are attending collaborative meetings with transition teams, WIOA partners, and local employer groups.
      • Develop media outreach materials.
    3. Strengthen partnerships with Community Rehabilitation Providers
      • Change accreditation requirements for nonprofits to be employment service providers paid by Illinois vocational rehabilitation at DRS. Formal application and review process for agencies who wish to become CRPs.
      • Disseminate Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) best practices and alternative business models developed with the SWTCIE IL demonstration project to community rehabilitation providers statewide.

We look forward to a year full of change and continued connection. Our goals are robust, but we are confident in the abilities of our disability community, staff, providers, and other partners. We will reach new heights together. The people of Illinois are our greatest strength, and thus our duty to invest in everyone, including those with disabilities.