Rehabilitation Services Annual Report 2020

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

Rehabilitation Services Annual Report 2020 (pdf)

VR 100

Vocational Rehabilitation 1920 - 2020

DRS Success: Making It Work Together

FY2020 Annual Report

Message from the Chair...

On behalf of the Illinois State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) and with our Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) partner, we are pleased to present the 2020 Annual Report for the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program.

I don't think that any of us could have predicted the many novel challenges we have faced this year due to COVID-19 and commend the Illinois DRS leadership with working quickly to maintain service provision in the safest manner possible for consumers and DRS staff. We started out the year with priorities that indeed shifted during the months but DRS staff were able to continue to concentrate on the bigger picture of maintaining outcomes while also acting quickly to transform service provision. They have done a tremendous job!

Some of the notable accomplishments during the year include:

  • DRS continues to adopt and integrate the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act ( WIOA) standards and processes into their system.
  • DRS completed a MOU with the Illinois Department of Developmental Disabilities to strengthen the partnership between these two agencies for supported employment.
  • A pilot project for Customized Employment has been created.
  • SRC and DRS worked with the Governor's office to get all outstanding SRC council members approved to the Council.
  • The State Plan was completed and includes many aspirations for the SRC and DRS.
  • Devised innovative methods to try to keep the Illinois Community Rehabilitation Provider network strong for Illinoisans with disabilities.
  • Worked with RSA and federal and state legislators to receive guidance and request waivers and remedies of federal rules and regulations to ensure continued provision of most effective services during the pandemic.
  • Continuing to move individuals from 14(c) employment to competitive integrated employment.

Many other initiatives have been started this year and will roll into next year. The SRC is working with DRS to create a reporting system to address the items in the state plan; create a more effective strategic planning session structure; create an effective Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment; customer satisfaction survey system; strengthen the partnership between DRS and the SRC; and to ensure that Illinois DRS provides the best possible services.

I wish to thank the DRS staff for their dedication, expertise, and professionalism in helping people with disabilities achieve their desired employment outcomes. I also wish to thank the SRC members who give freely of their time to help the SRC and DRS to make continuous improvements to efficiency and service quality.


LaDonna R. Henson, Chair
Illinois State Rehabilitation Council

Success Story - Ashley Kim

Storytelling is an art and can be found in every culture and society. Stories can bring people together, simplify complex issues, inspire and motivate us as well. Ashley Kim believes that "stories really have power" and shared that she would like to help tell people's interesting stories in the future. She has a powerful and interesting story of her own and it's just beginning.

It was September of 2009 and Ashley was just 12 years old. She was at a birthday pool party with friends and they were all having fun. That is, until Ashley dove into the pool in an area that was not as deep as she thought and fractured her C-6 & C-7 vertebrae, resulting in quadriplegia.

Ashley required surgery and several months of therapy before returning home and fitting back into her active, pre-teen life with friends and family. The challenge of learning to live with a disability can be overwhelming in and of itself, especially when combined with teenage peer pressure, pressures to succeed academically and the stress of an uncertain future.

When Ashley was asked to share associated struggles or obstacles that she encountered with managing her disability or dealing with peer pressure, her response was not what you might expect. She calmly explained that "every day is a struggle; the struggles range from the small things to bigger problems but if you worry about them before they even occur, you'll be unable to do anything about them".

This philosophy was developed early in her life and she developed an interest in psychology courses and thoughts of becoming a Psychologist. It wasn't until her senior year in high school that she discovered a book in the library titled "Fifty Years of Silence" and it was this story that would inspire and motivate Ashley to tell people's stories that need to be told.

Fifty Years of Silence is a personal memoir written by Jan Ruff O'Herne, one of thousands of young women forcibly removed from their families in World War II to provide sexual services as 'comfort women' in a military brothel run by the Imperial Japanese Army between 1929 and 1945.

It took 50 years to break her silence and she was encouraged by the testimony of Asian women who first came forward to demand recognition and apology from the Japanese Military who still claim that all the accounts are false. So, in 1994 Jan became the first European 'comfort woman' to speak out regarding the brutality they faced in her book which would be published in six languages and a documentary film about her life won numerous accolades as well.

Ashley was first connected with the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program while she was in high school and was already receiving personal assistance services since 2011 through the DRS Home Services Program (HSP). She has always been an excellent student and with the assistance of Jennifer Schmidt, a VR counselor in the Rolling Meadows field office, a VR case was opened with Ashley in preparation for DRS to assist her with her employment goal.

This goal included attending college and a strong desire to major in Film & TV Production. Ashley has always been highly motivated and through her research, found that Boston University had a major in Film & TV Production that she liked so she applied and was accepted.

Attending college in another state resulted in a challenge due to the home care services she was receiving in Illinois. Boston University considered Ashley an Illinois resident and therefore, she would be ineligible to receive personal assistant services paid by the University or other entities in Massachusetts.

Not to be deterred, Ashley advocated for herself and was able to receive personal assistant services in the dorm while VR counselor Schmidt was able to work it out with HSP approvals to pay because she was considered an Illinois resident. On the other hand, VR was able to assist with tuition, housing, books and supplies while Ashley worked towards her degree and employment goal. To this end, Ashley graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors in Film & TV Production and a Bachelors in Public Relations in May of 2019.

Ashley was also able to obtain an internship in Los Angeles where she worked as a Development Intern at Escape Artists, LLC during the day and attended classes at night. She enjoyed the internship and was getting ready to move in March of 2020 but unfortunately, COVID-19 and the pandemic resulted in the shutdown of many of the filming companies in and around Los Angeles.

DRS recently assisted Ashley with completing a driving evaluation, driver education and van modifications to increase her independence. She is currently participating in an internship and looking for work in Los Angeles for Film or Public Relations/ Marketing positions where she will be able to tell inspiring stories as well as Asian American stories as well.

With her motivation it won't take long before she will be saying "Lights, Cameras, Action"!

Message from the Secretary and Director...

The Illinois Department of Human Services' Division of Rehabilitation Services (IDHS/DRS) celebrated 100 years of the Federal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program, a fitting anniversary for such an extraordinary year. This year tested our century old program in ways few could predict, but in this adversity, it gave IDHS/DRS an opportunity to look at ways to reinvent ourselves.

IDHS/DRS immediately implemented measures to protect the health and safety of our staff, customers, and communities. We made necessary technical investments to move our staff to a remote working environment with connectivity to ensure complete continuity in service.

To further expand our ability to reach customers and maintain channels of communications with our communities, IDHS/DRS activated a mass texting program that has been used to provide critical information instantly to our customers and their families. To ensure customers are heard during these challenging and unprecedented times, we have shared targeted surveys to gain feedback and address their concerns quickly.

Additionally, in coordination with our partners, the Illinois Care Connections program provided much needed devices to our isolated seniors allowing them to maintain contact with loved ones without comprising their health.

These innovations are not just in response to the present pandemic but will allow the VR program to weather future storms without limiting our ability to serve our customers and communities. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to revolutionizing our service delivery model to include remote and digital tools and at the same time provide excellent quality of service to all Illinoisans with disabilities regardless of their location or mobility.

As we continue to navigate through COVID-19, IDHS/DRS will emerge from this pandemic stronger than before and have every confidence the best is yet to come for us all and the communities we serve.


Grace B. Hou, Secretary
Illinois Department of Human Services

Rahnee K. Patrick, Director
Division of Rehabilitation Services 

We invite you to visit the Division of Rehabilitation Services SUCCESS website at and enjoy the wonderful stories from our customers and community business partners that will encourage and educate on how to make success happen at your home and in your community. In addition, there are numerous helpful resources provided for your use as well.

If you require this information in Braille or large print, please inform us of this preference.

IDHS/DRS Vocational Rehabilitation Program

FY 2020 Final Data Summary

Service Data

Category Referrals Applications New Plans Total Served Outcomes
BFS Region 1 5,774 4,311 3,897 13,711 1,471
BFS Region 2 4,393 3,167 2,775 9,463 1,136
BFS Region 3 2,639 2,128 1,871 6,536 916
BFS Region 4 1,537 1,086 767 3,177 332
BFS Region 5 1,845 1,453 1,180 4,142 622
BBS 650 558 407 1,641 155
Statewide Total 16,838 12,703 10,897 38,670 4,632

Customers By Service Category

Category STEP Non-STEP Transition SEP College
BFS Region 1 6,837 245 7,082 559 1,377
BFS Region 2 4,681 357 5,038 283 1,064
BFS Region 3 2,457 255 2,712 113 1,183
BFS Region 4 1,358 87 1,445 61 810
BFS Region 5 1,682 211 1,893 106 763
BBS 138 53 201 29 289
Statewide Total 17,153 1,218 18,371 1,151 5,486

Customers By Age Group

Category Served Outcomes Percent of Outcomes Percent of Served Average Hourly Wage Average Weekly Earnings
less than 20 years 24,157 2,296 50 65 11.48 317
21-30 years 4,294 799 17 12 12.07 339
31-40 years 2,750 509 11 7 13.36 399
41-50 years 2,500 456 10 7 13.71 422
51-60 years 2,502 437 9 7 13.5 391
61 or more years 849 135 3 2 13.74 367
VR Total 38,670 4,632 100.0 100.0 12.26 349

Customers By Disability Category

Category Served Outcomes Percent of Outcomes Percent of Served Average Hourly Wage Average Weekly Earnings
Blind-Visual Impairment 1,418 118 2.6 3.8 15.42 498
Deaf-Hard of Hearing 1,858 351 7.6 5.0 12.82 480
Physical Disability 2,126 225 4.9 5.7 14.38 445
Mental Illness 7,384 1,153 24.9 19.9 12.14 339
Intellectual Disability 10,124 1,080 23.3 27.3 10.71 249
Learning Disability 9,724 1,180 25.5 26.2 11.62 337
Alcohol-Substance Abuse 69 13 0.3 0.2 11.91 448
Brain Injury 405 45 1.0 1.1 14.15 437
Other Condition 3,944 467 10.1 10.6 12.45 349
VR Total 38,402 4,632 100.0 100.0 12.26 349

Customers By Race/Ethnic Group

Category Served Outcomes Percent of Outcomes Percent of Served Average Hourly Wage Average Weekly Earnings
White  21,080 2,824 61.0 56.9 12.11 355
African American 9,045 1,059 22.9 24.4 12.60 343
Hispanic/Latino  5,448 596 12.9 14.7 12.28 330
Asian 827 82 1.8 2.2 13.45 367
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 59 5 0.1 0.2 11.12 311
American Indian 61 6 0.1 0.2 12.08 337
Multi Racial 532 60 1.3 1.4 11.52 309
VR Total 37,052 4,632 100.0 100.0 12.26 349
All Minority Categories 15,972 1,808 39.0 43.0 12.49 339

Customers by Race and Education Program

Category White Black or African American Hispanic or Latino Other Race Two or More Races Total All Minority Categories
STEP 4,836 1,764 1,808 274 140 8,822 3,986
Non-STEP Transition 212 47 34 4 15 312 100
College/University 2,804 751 491 122 79 4,247 1,443
Other 77 37 10 2 1 127 50
None 5,921 3,039 1,392 286 156 10,794 4,873
VR Total 13,850 5,735 3,735 688 391 24,302 10,452

Measurable Skills Gains

Category Skills Gained Post Secondary Students MSG
BBS 135 233 57.9
BFS Region 1 444 1,016 43.7
BFS Region 2 516 769 67.1
BFS Region 3 424 680 62.4
BFS Region 4 305 632 48.3
BFS Region 5 275 518 53.1
Statewide Total 2,099 3,848 54.5

Customers by Order of Selection

Category Rehab Closures Non-Rehab Closures Rehab Rate Average Weekly Earnings Average Spending on Rehab Education Average Spending on Rehab Non-Education
Disability which is Most Significant 2,418 3,006 44.59 325 6,738 2,289
Disability which is Very Significant 1,776 1,998 47.06 393 7,194 2,331
Disability which is Significant 438 407 51.83 410 6,588 1,967
Total 4,632 5,411 46.13 359 6,840 2,195

Customers by Education Program

Category Rehab Closures Non-Rehab Closures Rehab Rate Average Weekly Earnings Average Spending on Rehab Education Average Spending on Rehab Non-Education
Community College 520 356 59.4 455 9,501 5,603
Secondary Transitional Experience Program 1,765 3,260 35.1 294 5,486 1,860
Technical Institute 38 33 53.5 535 7,171 3,845
Transition - Non-STEP 235 316 42.6 390 11,628 4,379
University 247 201 55.1 617 35,393 22,954
Programs Total 2,805 4,166 40.2 364 13,836 7,728

Customers by Special Program

Category Rehab Closures Non-Rehab Closures Rehab Rate Average Weekly Earnings Average Spending on Rehab Education Average Spending on Rehab Non-Education
Supported Employment 206 244 45.8 199 9,996 3,314
IPS Program 383 199 65.8 300 7,449 1,351
Community Rehab Program 1,610 1,064 60.2 326 7,621 2,100
SSI or SSDI Recipient 1,487 2,158 40.8 288 8,585 3,004
Programs Total 3,686 3,665 50.1 300 8,413 2,442

Customers by Dual VR HSP Case

Category Count of Dual Cases Referrals Applications Eligibilities Rehab Plans Competitive Outcomes Average Hourly Wage
BBS Regions 130 1 7 4 70 4 13.78
BFS Region 1 470 17 5 11 223 21 15.25
BFS Region 2 229 13 7 6 96 11 13.06
BFS Region 3 105 1 1 1 75 5 13.02
BFS Region 4 60 1 2 5 22 3 9.58
BFS Region 5 65 9 2 5 19 5 14.97
Total 1,059 42 24 32 505 49 14.03

Customers by Dual VR HSP Case Closures

Category Count of Dual Cases Closed at Referral Closed at Application Closed at Eligibility Closed at Plan Total VR Spending
BBS Regions 130 19 8 3 13 479,065
BFS Region 1 470 131 13 6 40 2,824,419
BFS Region 2 229 50 9 4 33 1,682,447
BFS Region 3 105 9 2 6 5 3,642,842
BFS Region 4 60 10 2 8 7 641,343
BFS Region 5 65 8 2 7 8 346,095
Total 1,059 227 36 34 106 9,616,210

Data Summary

Vocational Rehabilitation Program

In FY2020 the DRS vocational rehabilitation program assisted 4,632 people with disabilities in achieving a competitive employment outcome. This marked a decrease of 9.4% from the previous fiscal year. These individuals earned on average $18,148 at case closure, an increase of $1,295 annually from the previous year. This added a total of $6 million in additional income for Illinois households over the previous year.

The State Rehabilitation Council Ad Hoc Data Committee and DRS-VR have continued to make progress on establishing data metrics and sharing to fulfill those objectives laid out in the State Plan. This FY2020 Data Summary exhibits those new metrics with which DRS is seeking to both track and establish benchmarks. The inclusion of Order of Selection, Special Programs, and Education Programs will allow for the establishment of tracking and benchmarks for those programs of current focus. With this data, and that of historically underserved communities, DRS can examine each aspect of our service and seek to continuously improve upon that.

Workforce Opportunity and Innovation Act

This will also lead to the inclusion of all WIOA data measures DRS has established targets for, with Measurable Skills Gains being the first DRS has established a target for at 62%. DRS served 3,848 Post-Secondary Students with 2,099 skills gained throughout FY2020, for an MSG rate of 54.5%. Per WIOA guidelines, DRS must reach 90% of their goal to have met. For this year, DRS missed this threshold by 1.3%. It is likely that the significant decrease in primary and secondary education functions in Illinois limited staff ability to record skills gains.

Home Services Program

DRS has placed a focus on those cases receiving Home and Community Based Services and seeking services through the Vocational Rehabilitation program. These Dual Cases highlight the complete service DRS provides customers seeking independence in their homes and fulfilling employment in the community. DRS served 610 Dual Case customers in FY2020 and produced competitive outcomes for 49 of these individuals.

IDHS/DRS: Empowering People with Disabilities.

Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.

IDHS 4195 (R-12-20) DRS Annual Report 250 copies

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