Community Partner Update: January 2012


DRS has been working with the DHS Budget Office and the Governor's Office of Management and Budget to develop a FY13 budget request based on the framework established through the "Budgeting for Results" legislation. This process links the Division's programs with goals and sub-goals defined under each of the Governor's six priority areas. This linkage as well as program metrics will assist the Governor's Office and the General Assembly in determining resources available to fund DRS programs. The Governor's FY13 budget address is currently scheduled for February 22, 2012.

VR Performance Highlights

The DRS VR program has shown considerable improvement in its primary performance measures for the first five months of FY12. Data through November 30 show that the number of customers achieving a competitive employment outcome increased by 12.4 percent compared to the same period in FY11. A total of 1,944 individuals became employed through November 30, compared to 1,730 in the previous year.

The rehabilitation rate is a measure of effectiveness in helping customers become employed. It is essentially a "success rate," the percentage of individuals successfully employed out of all individuals whose cases were closed. For FY12, the rehab rate is 56.9 percent, compared to 52.1 percent last year.

Referrals to the VR program are up 6.9 percent compared to the previous year, and applications for services are up 2.1 percent. The number of new service plans (IPEs or individualized plans for employment) are up 13.2 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Bureau of Field Services

DRS and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will begin Phase I of the new Secondary Transitional Experience Program (STEP) in January 2012 that will enable more than 2,000 students to receive services coordinated by CPS, DRS, and UIC. Phase II will begin July 2012, and Phase III will begin January 2013. The three entities will be linked via database designed by CPS that enables all parties to track the progress of every student entered into the program. Students will receive transition services that will prepare them for employment as they exit high school.

Bureau of Home Services

The Home Services Program has been taking a number of steps to modernize and streamline. In addition, it is worth noting the hourly rate earned by Personal Assistants (PA) has become increasingly competitive and the availability of health insurance for those working over 30 hours/month make the work even more attractive.

  • Personal Assistant Training - For the first time, formal training for PAs is being offered through the training center of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Initial trainings started in November. A total of seven course offerings are planned for FY 12. At this time, first aid, body mechanics, and universal precautions are being offered, with future linkage with Centers for Independent Living.
  • Electronic Prescreening and Other Joint Efforts with Department of Aging - Effective November 1, all prescreens from Case Coordination Units, regardless of the age of the customer, are submitted electronically though the Department on Aging's web-portal. We are still working out some of the details, but this holds great promise for improved services. We are also working to closely align our Homemaker contracts and coordinating joint training for our field staff.

Independent Living (IL)

This is the state and federal annual reporting period for CILs. The IL Unit is in the process of finalizing all reported information and data. It appears that services to consumers in most categories increased in 2011 from what was reported in 2010.

Training Unit

The DRS Training Unit has launched a new aspect of its public awareness campaign to help people with disabilities enter the workforce. A billboard campaign officially began October 1 and reached into every region of the state.

The billboard campaign is called "Have a Disability and Need a Job? My Success can be Your Success" and features pictures of successful customers from across the state. Their inspiring stories can be viewed at

Jobs for Youth

A Partnership to Promote Employment of Inner-City Youth with Disabilities: DRS has partnered with five organizations to develop and implement a Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, to enhance the opportunities of inner-city youth with disabilities (ages 16-24) to access college and find employment. The partners are UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago, Center on Capacity Building for Minorities with Disabilities Research), Fedejal (Federation Jalicience del Medio Oeste de los Estados Unidos), Schwab Hospital, YCCS (Youth Connection Charter School), and Asians with Disabilities Outreach Think Tank (ADOPT).

The proposed project has two main objectives: 1) to build organizational capacity among participating partnering organizations to support educational and employment aspirations of minority youth with disabilities after graduating from high school and; 2) to develop and evaluate strategies designed to enhance minority youth with disabilities' access to college and employment.

The UIC research team will evaluate the project and coordinate implementation. In addition, they plan to disseminate relevant information to small businesses and service providers about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities around the country; produce an infomercial in Spanish that will be distributed locally and nationally; and develop informative materials for community education, instructional guides, webinars, workshops and offer consultation and technical assistance.


The following legislative actions have been signed by the Governor.

Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) and the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (ISVI):

Senate Bill 170 (P.A. 97-0625) amends the Disabled Persons Rehabilitation Act to provide for a Superintendent at ISD and ISVI, instead of one superintendent to oversee both schools. The Superintendents will be appointed by the Governor; will be responsible for the day to day operations of the schools; and will obtain educational, professional and other employees (subject to the provisions of the Personnel Code and any applicable collective bargaining agreement).


The measure also authorizes DHS to establish a locally held account for the Therkelsen/Hansen College Loan Fund and transfers existing funds from the State Treasury to that account, and requires DHS to adopt rules regarding the administration of the Fund.

Senate Bill 274 amends the Disabled Persons Rehabilitation Act to remove language that 1) requires DHS to complete a financial analysis on students attending ISD and ISVI, and 2) exempts students who are receiving Medicaid or TANF from financially participating in established fees. The measure also removes language concerning fees for room and board for residential students and fees for meals for day students.

The measure revises language regarding parent and guardian financial participation for fees for activities and services and requires DHS to promulgate rules with input from (i) the superintendent of each school and (ii) Directors of Special Education from selected Local Education Agencies who place students at the schools. It also requires the schools to establish locally held funds to collect and expend funds for the identified fees.

Administrative Rule Update: VR Part 562 - Customer Financial Participation has been adopted and has been posted on the JCAR website.

The following rules are at JCAR and are in varying stages of the Administrative Rules process:

Part 521 - Program Definitions, Part 572 - Individualized Plan for Employment, Part 590 - Services, Part 595 - Closure of Rehabilitation Case.

A new Part 552 - Referral language has been created and has been submitted for Executive Review.

Two versions of Part 650 - Vending Facility Program for the Blind have been prepared and have been provided to the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors for review. They were discussed on December 8. with the Committee. These rules incorporate the requirements of the Illinois Blind Vendors Act.

ISD/ISVI's final changes are being incorporated into the school rules, and they will be submitted for Executive Review. There are eleven Parts to the school rules and the Lekotek rule, which will be repealed.

Federal HIPAA Privacy and Security Audit Program: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is required by ARRA to provide audits to ensure that covered entities and business associates are complying with HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules and the Breach Notification standards. The federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is implementing this mandate. A pilot phase began November 2011 and will continue until December 2012. OCR auditors will conduct up to 150 audits of privacy and security compliance. "Every covered entity and business associate is eligible for an audit," says the HHS website news article.

In the initial phase, a broad representation of the health care industry will be the focus. In the pilot phase, all audits will include a site visit, interviews and review of records resulting in an audit report. These audits are being conducted to assess current compliance methods, identify best practices, and to look for risks and vulnerabilities that may not have been identified to date.

OCR is to notify the entity in writing in advance of an onsite audit, and the audited entity will have to opportunity to respond with written comments to a draft audit report. At the end of the pilot, OCR plans to use the audit reports to better understand current compliance efforts and to determine appropriate technical assistance and corrective actions.

For more information, visit  

Call for Investment

The Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities is seeking community partners willing to invest their time, energy, and expertise in "HIRE" (Help Illinois Rethink Employment). This initiative will create partnerships and systems of practice resulting in gainful employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Applications are due January 25, with telephone interviews scheduled for February 7. Eligibility, proposal requirements, and expected outcomes can be found at  or contact Jennifer Harrison at (217) 782-9696.

Thresholds will hold its annual Young at Heart 2012 Benefit on Saturday, January 28, at Chicago's prestigious Field Museum. The casual, all-ages event will engage attendees to learn more about the programs and services of Thresholds that assist and inspire people with mental illness to rebuild their lives.