Community Partner Update: June 2011

Current FY12 Budget Proposals Impacting the Division of Rehabilitation Services:

DHS Budget - The General Assembly concluded the Spring Session late the night of May 31st. The operating budget for DHS which they passed is House Bill 3717. While the final impact of HB3717 on DHS is yet to be determined, below are some of the DRS details:

  • $573.5 million - has been appropriated to the Home Services Program, $5.8 million less than the Governor's Introduced Budget.
  • $29.2 million - is the amount that is appropriated for the three residential schools, $4.7 million less than the Governor's Introduced Budget.
  • Funding for Independent Living Center's was nearly all restored in HB3717. The program will see a slight reduction of $45,200 as compared to the FY11 allocation.
  • State Match supporting the federal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program was reduced approximately $200,000. This will limit the DRS' ability to draw in approximately $740,000 in federal VR funds. The impact to the VR program is $940,000.
  • State Match supporting the federal Independent Living Older Blind program was reduced $1,400. This will impact the DRS' ability to fully garner federal funding in the amount $4,900 of associated with implementing this program. The reduction in the Older Blind program totals $6,400.
  • Funding for Community Reintegration was partially restored in HB3717. The FY12 allocation totals $1.3 million, or $381,300 less than the FY11 allocation.
  • Extended Services was eliminated in the Governor's Introduced Budget and failed to be restored in HB3717. This program was funded at nearly $1.1 million in FY11. As the presence of an Extended Services Program is required for receipt of federal Supported Employment funds, this will also likely mean Illinois will forfeit the $1.0 million in federal funding received for Supported Employment for people with disabilities. Total impact to DRS for this program elimination is $2.1 million.
  • Centers for Independent Living: Over 7300 advocates participated in a Life Rally at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago to protest state budget cuts. In addition, over 8000 people signed a petition, which was delivered to the Governor's Office, opposing the proposed cuts. Obviously, the over riding focus for all twenty three CILs is to pursue education and advocacy efforts for funding to be restored to the proposed budget for the Independent Living and the Community Reintegration Programs.
  • On the federal level, there is an expectation that the Independent Living Program will be cut by 2% in the FY 2012 budget. This would include IL Part B (IL services) and IL Part C (CIL operations) funding.
  • Money Follows the Person/Community Reintegration: David Reed started on Monday, May 9th as the Manager of Community Reintegration/Money Follows the Person Program. David has worked for the Division of Rehabilitation Services both as an Employment Resources Specialist and Supervisor over the VR/HSP program in Bloomington. It is anticipated that additional staff will be hired within the MFP/CRP program within the next month.
  • Training has been conducted for DRS staff on the Center for Independent Living Money Follows the Person/Community Reintegration initiative. We expect this will enhance the collaboration between the CIL and the local office when consumers are transitioned into the community after living in nursing facilities.


  • On May 18th, Senator Mattie Hunter was named "Legislator of the Year" by the Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities (ICED) and was awarded the "Carl Suter Award" for her outstanding legislative accomplishments as the Chairperson of the Senate Human Services Committee as well as being a powerful advocate within the General Assembly for her progressive positions on health care and disability programs. Past award winners include Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Rep. Ester Golar, Sen. Demuzio and Rep. Annazette Collins.
  • Graduations: Graduation at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired and Illinois School for the Deaf were held on Friday, May 27th. Rep. Stephens, whose niece attends ISVI, was the graduation speaker. Former student Nathan Kester, currently a Webmaster III at Google, was the graduation speaker at ISD. Graduation at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education at Roosevelt is June 8th. Dr. Kilbury is the graduation speaker.
  • State Department's Reception for the U.S. - Mexico Foundation's Mexican American Leadership Initiative (MALI): DRS Assistant Director Francisco Alvarado attended the State Department's Reception for the U.S. - Mexico Foundation's Mexican American Leadership Initiative (MALI) with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 16th. At the event Francisco was awarded one of three awards recognizing the importance of working together in the spirit of shared responsibility of critical issues facing Mexico and the U.S.The Foundation was formed in 2010 for the purpose of fostering constructive responses and partnerships between the societies of the U.S. and Mexico. Since then, Mexican American leaders have been gathering in cities across the promoting a spirit of shared responsibility of critical issues facing both countries.
  • The First MALI Conference marked the public launch of this historic initiative, and in doing so for the first time gathered a critical mass of Mexican American leaders from across the country to address these critical issues. With important contributions from key Mexican American leaders as well as other prominent officials drawn from government, the NGO community, and business, the Conference provided up-to-date briefings on developments in Mexico including perspectives on how U.S. Diaspora communities can make a difference in relations with their ancestral countries of origin. At this historic event Francisco was presented with one of the first recognition awards for his work with the migrant communities that focus on building upon their strengthens to reach self sufficiency in addition to his participation in the implementation of a capacity building survey that was conducted in a bi-national manner. The First Annual MALI Conference "The Challenge of Shared Responsibility" featured the following participants, among others: The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State; The Honorable Henry Cisneros, Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, and Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

DRS Contract Unit:

The Contract Unit has been working toward completion of the FY12 Community Service contracts. Unfortunately, contracts likely will not be available earlier than last year. This year's contract has been revised requiring a uniform budget document must be used by all providers. A webinar regarding the contract process is planned for June.

DRS State VR Plan Developments:

DRS completed its Future Direction Survey earlier this year to help identify goals for the upcoming State VR Plan. The survey included input from stakeholders and staff, using an open-ended response format. A qualitative analysis of the responses indicated three key areas which will be addressed in the new plan.

  • Services to Transition Age Youth: The focus will be to preserve the momentum established during the school years and assist the customer in achieving their transition outcome of either employment, college education, or vocational training. This will require improvements in IPE development, case tracking and ongoing support services.
  • Outreach to Underserved Groups: There were many comments that DRS needs to improve services to minority customers from various groups, specifically Latinos and Asian groups. DRS will utilize 2010 Census data to evaluate geographic areas in which outreach is most appropriate compared to current service patterns.
  • Expansion of Business Partnerships: DRS received a wide variety of suggestions from the survey, including that DRS could do a better job relating to employers. In this initiative, targeted offices will develop partnerships with at least three new employers in their communities. A particular focus will be on employers with several different types of jobs available, opening up job possibilities for a wider range of VR customers.

Home Services Program:

Given the state's continued financial difficulties, it probably is not a surprise that much of the recent activity has been focused on efforts that will limit program spending even as we try to provide the best services we can.

  • Service Hour Parameters - HSP is completing the training of staff and system changes to implement the long delayed Service Hour Parameters. We expect formal implementation to start June 1.
  • Medicaid Eligibility - Several efforts are underway or planned to maximize the proportion of program costs covered by Medicaid reimbursements. First, HSP is working to assure compliance with existing rules requiring that all customers apply for Medicaid even if they ultimately are found ineligible. Those who comply now will be able to remain eligible in the future as the program becomes a Medicaid only program in FY 12. The move to Medicaid only eligibility doesn't just affect HSP. It also affects the Departments of Divisions of Aging, Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.
  • Electronic Prescreening -Working closely with the Department on Aging, we will soon introduce a single web portal for all prescreens, eliminating the paper process as well utilizing timely information. In particular, we will work to get nursing home placement information to Centers for Independent Living as soon after the placement as possible so discussions about reintegration into the community occur quickly.

Bureau of Blind Services:

The Blind Services Planning Council (BSPC), an advisory council to the Bureau of Blind Services, held their quarterly meeting Tuesday, May 24, at 9:00 a.m. via teleconference.

On June 9, BBS, Springfield Noon Lions Club, and The Mary Bryant Home for the Blind and Visually Impaired will hold a Low Vision Fair from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the South Side Christian Church, 2600 South MacArther Boulevard in Springfield. Over twenty-five vendors from throughout the state of Illinois are expected to participate.

On April 27, the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education at Wood began a fourteen week - one day a week - Spanish-speaking Senior Program. The program is spearheaded by Mr. Horatio Esparza from the Progressive Center and Ms. Cindy Colon, Rehabilitation Instructor. Practical daily living skills training is taught and includes the use of ADL tools, i.e., signature guides, communication methods and cooking techniques, etc. The program, designed to expose the seniors to available community resources, includes speakers from the Social Security Administration and the Attorney General's Office. Additionally, the ICRE-W medical department has conducted training on various medical techniques such as a talking glucometer, Voxcom and blood pressure machine. For further information, please contact Derrick Phillips at 312-633-3532.

Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing:

The Division partnered with Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) to provide a week long comprehensive training on deafblindness. Sister Bernie from HKNC flew in from New York to work with Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf (RCD) and Bureau of Blind Services (BBS) counselors for training on etiology, medical aspects, communication strategies, personal future planning and assistive technology. This is the first cross training with the RCDs and BBS counselors. We anticipate this cross training will lead to more cohesive services to our customers who are deafblind which will lead to more outcomes for this population.

Training Unit:

  • DRS launched a new ARRA initiative providing education about services to our customers and providers. With the help of the DHS' Illinois Information Services (IIS), VR staff were videotaped discussing and demonstrating the rehabilitation case process specific to their unit. These videos will be uploaded to our DRS Success Website where they can be viewed and used for presentations to our providers, referral sources, employers, and customers. Please go to to view on or after July 1st.
  • On May 12th, DRS completed a successful statewide training on working with Ex-Offenders. DRS staff partnered with the Region V Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) group and shared information about prevalent rates, interviewing techniques, interpretation of criminal backgrounds, sealing and expunging records and job development strategies.

Technology Unit:

We have been working to revitalize our technology programs - both the equipment and systems we use to serve our customers and the assistive technology we provide to persons with disabilities. Projects include an across-the-board computer upgrade for staff and an exciting new assistive technology loan program for vocational rehabilitation customers.

Legislative Unit:

DRS is monitoring several bills that impact DRS and the customers we serve. The following is a brief synopsis:

  • House Bill 1485 - Each State human services agency shall collaboratively adopt joint rules to establish a cross-agency prequalification process for contracting with human service providers and establish a cross-agency master service agreement of standard terms and conditions for this contracting. (Passed both Chambers)
  • House Bill 1488 - Establishes a committee that will examine the regulations, reporting, monitoring, compliance, auditing, certification, licensing, and work processes that guide departmental operations and contracts to eliminate obsolete, redundant, or unreasonable regulations, reporting, monitoring, compliance, auditing, licensing, and certifications. (Passed both Chambers)
  • House Bill 1656 - The Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Department of Human Services shall report on the feasibility and potential consequences of centralizing administrative functions for applicants applying only for medical assistance offices. (Passed both Chambers)
  • Senate Bill 71 - Amends various insurance codes including coverage for the reasonable and necessary medical treatment for audiology services and hearing aids. (Held in the Senate)
  • House Bill 387 - Amends the Illinois Act on Aging requiring the Department to pay an enhanced rate to in-home service provider agencies that offer health insurance coverage as a benefit to direct service worker employees consistent with the mandates of Public Act 95-713. (Re-referred to Rules)
  • SB 170 - Requires the superintendents of the Illinois School for the Deaf and the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired to be appointed by the Governor. Hiring of certified and licensed staff will be completed at the schools. The measure also authorizes the Department to establish a locally held account to be administered for the Therkelsen/Hansen College Loan Fund for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and who are seeking a post secondary education. (Passed both Chambers)
  • House Bill 3780 - Improves State services delivery to people with disabilities and increases the number of people with disabilities employed in State government. Establishes a People with Disabilities State Employment Plan Advisory Council and requires the Department of Central Management Services to develop and implement plans to increase the number of people with disabilities employed by the State. (House Rules Committee)
  • House Resolution 273 - Encourages local and state law enforcement agencies in Illinois to educate their law enforcement officers to enforce the Illinois Pedestrians with Disabilities Safety Act.(Passed the House)
  • HJR36 - Creates the Assistive Technology Evaluation and Training Centers Task Force to (i) study the effectiveness of the Act in protecting consumers from manufacturing defects and warranty abuses by assistive technology manufacturers and (ii) submit a report to the General Assembly of the results of the study with recommendations for legislative changes to the Act. (Passed the House)
  • SB 1802 - Among other things, amends the Disabled Persons Rehabilitation Act to require the Department of Human Services to complete a financial analysis on each student attending the Illinois School for the Deaf or the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired and to ask parents or guardians to participate, if applicable, in the cost of identified services or activities that are not education related. (Passed both Chambers)
  • SB 2147 - Among other things, amends the Illinois Act on the Aging. The Department shall pay an enhanced rate under the Community Care Program to in-home service provider agencies that offer health insurance coverage as a benefit to direct service worker employees consistent with the mandates of Public Act 95-713. Contains other provisions concerning contribution of such payments to a Taft-Hartley welfare plan or other qualified health care plan for coverage. (Re-referred to House Rules)