IDHS ALL IN! Stakeholder Newsletter Issue 3


Message from the Secretary

IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou

I believe that my life of service is a privilege and a passion. People will say that I have made a selfless decision, because I have worked in mission-driven organizations all my life - non-profit, foundation, and government. But I, like many of you, work to serve others. We believe that our contributions will help achieve a more just society, that our actions and hard work will make life better for others, and that a civil society requires public servants and public service and supports.

I feel honored to do work that makes me feel worthwhile and valued. I come to work to do something that I find fulfilling; this is a rarity and is a true blessing. Many of the people we serve do not have that privilege. Rather, they hope for the bare minimum - a good solid 40 hours of work - enough to provide the basics.

Our IDHS team is united in our service to the people of Illinois. We do this in a wide variety of ways and are grappling with significant sector-wide challenges and opportunities. I know that some of you are frustrated about our bureaucracy or pace of change. While we are here to serve and be expedient, we also have a variety of checks and balances to consider.

We are inspired and enthusiastic about the significant progress and projects underway, including Census 2020, administration of the Olmstead consent decrees, gambling use disorder services expansion, and new resources for behavioral health services.

As many of you know, Marca Bristo, the founder and long-time President and CEO of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, passed away over the weekend.

Marca was a trailblazer for people with disabilities. In Chicago, across our state and country - and indeed around the world - advocates know Marca worked every day of her adult life to ensure justice for all. Marca helped make the ADA possible, and her relentless, clear voice moved thousands of segregated, isolated people to lives of independence and dignity. Her tireless work to bring fairness, inclusion and equal opportunity into housing, transportation, education and employment for people with disabilities will endure for decades to come.

Marca led the Independent Living movement in Illinois with a giant heart, and she challenged the Illinois Department of Human Services to do better in its work to help Illinois live up to our shared ideals. We can honor her life by pursuing her vision. As a friend, I am deeply saddened by Marca's passing, but I draw comfort from the blueprint for a more accessible society she shared with all of us.

Thank you again for your continued partnership.

Grace Hou


Illinois Department of Human Services

Help Us Make a Difference | New Funding Opportunities

Funding Opportunity for 2020 Census Outreach

Census Logo

Your feedback on the 2020 Census Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) has been so helpful. We heard you and are amending the NOFO in the following ways:

Extending the submission deadline to Friday, September 13, 2019 at 5:00 pm CT.

Extending the question and answer period to Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at 5:00 pm CT.

Allowing subrecipients to provide subawards to other entities (sub-subrecipients) as well as have subcontractors or consultants.

PLEASE NOTE: All tiers of subrecipients are subject to grant compliance including pre-qualification requirements.

We highly encourage all eligible organizations to apply. We are excited to receive your applications!

Take our surveys

Also, based on public feedback, a survey to connect potential Regional Intermediaries and potential subrecipients is online. Responses, including contact information, are visible on PLEASE NOTE: Survey results are for informational purposes only. Completing the survey does not entitle any entity to grant funding.

Potential Regional Intermediary Survey

Potential Subrecipient Survey

Resources for 2020 Census NOFO

IDHS staff have developed resources to help everyone with the NOFO application process including:

A technical assistance webinar/slide presentation

A catalog of GATA (Grant Accountability and Transparency Act) training webinars that dive into the specifics of the GATA process

An outline of pre-qualification requirements for potential grantees/Regional Intermediaries and subrecipients

A Question and Answer web page

Funding Opportunity for Gambling Recovery and Treatment

Individuals who struggle with gambling disorders seldom seek help, often hide their behavior from family members, and tend to have co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD) or mental health issues. With the expansion of gambling in Illinois, IDHS wants to make sure that all individuals who are at-risk for gambling disorder have multiple pathways to treatment and recovery.

This September, IDHS will post a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for community-based organizations to provide aggressive outreach to populations and areas of the state that are most impacted by the expansion of gambling in Illinois.These organizations will use their expertise in their communities to reach populations that are at high risk for gambling disorder due to geographic, demographic, cultural and/or economic factors and may be under-served due to these factors.

The NOFO will be posted on the Substance Use Prevention and Recovery Grant Information web page by mid-September. Please widely share this funding opportunity among your networks. we value your partnership in this effort to maximize the reach for individuals at risk for gambling disorder.

Entities interested in applying for this NOFO must be GATA pre-qualified. Please visit the Pre-Award Eligibility Requirements web page which will provide guidance on how to become pre-qualified.

To learn more about gambling disorders, please visit

What's New

Protecting our Immigrant Neighbors

Secretary Grace B. Hou talking to audience

IDHS and Protecting Immigrant Families are committed to supporting our immigrant communities in Illinois. We've teamed up to help educate and counsel families as the new Trump administration Public Charge Rule goes into effect.

This month, Secretary Hou joined with other government leaders, and advocates from leading immigrant rights, anti-poverty, and health organizations to inform immigrant communities about resources to help them assess their risks under the rule.

Governor Pritzker and IDHS have dedicated $1.3 million this year to 43 organizations across the state to help immigrant families make these difficult choices in light of this new and complicated rule.

Below are some resources that can help:

Make the Right Choice Fact Sheet English

Make the Right Choice Fact Sheet Spanish

Community Partners Contact List

Help is Here: IDHS sets up shop at the Illinois State Fair

Secretary Grace B. Hou at State Fair booth with other staff

IDHS' goal for the State Fair this year was to let fair-goers know that help is here. From August 9th through August 18th, the IDHS booth was set up in in the Governor's tent and focused on the various resources that we support or provide for Illinoisans to help their families and their communities. We wanted residents to know that IDHS is a place for help and assistance.

We worked with staff and providers from across the state to offer trainings and screenings. The booth featured opioid response trainings that showed individuals what to do if they witness an opioid overdose, and gambling disorder screenings to identify if individuals need gambling treatment. It also included child care eligibility screenings to see if families were interested in receiving help through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), and early intervention screenings so families and their children could see a specialist who could provide recommendations based on their child's development.

On August 11th, Veteran's Day at the fair, the IDHS human resources team was on-site and provided additional information about open positions at our agency. The team helped veterans match their specific skill sets with current job openings at IDHS and helped them with the application process.

Thank you to all of our amazing volunteers who helped us out at the fair especially our friends at Way Back Inn and Sangamon County Health Department. We couldn't have done it without you!


Bear Down Mabley Thunder!

People Posing

The Chicago Bears hosted flag football athletes from Special Olympics Illinois at the Walter Payton Center on July 13th! Our very own Mabley Thunder, from our Mabley Developmental Center in Dixon, Illinois, were one of 12 teams that competed in the flag football tournament with over 200 athletes from from across the state. It was a fun filled day of excitement and physical exercise. They were also greeted by current Bears players including linebacker, Joel Lyiegbuniwe, and tight end, Trey Burton, who autographed their shirts, shook their hands, and posed for pictures.

Congratulations to the Thunder for coming in 4th place in the tournament!

Overdose Awareness Day & National Recovery Month

National Recovery Month

Every September, IDHS' Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) and providers across the state participate in National Recovery Month. The goal of the month is to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. IDHS' 2019 theme is "Recovery Belongs" and our goal is to continue to raise awareness across the state and let individuals know that "Help is here" through our helpline and helpline website.

This year, we are sending out a press release about recovery month and the events our providers are hosting throughout the state along with a social media campaign on the IDHS Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. We are also launching videos that will raise awareness about overdose in Illinois and promote our helpline that connects individuals with treatment providers. Participation begins on August 31st with International Overdose Awareness Day and buildings in Chicago will light up purple from September 6-7 to increase awareness.

Click here for a full list of provider events.

IDHS Celebrates the 29th Anniversary of the ADA

Secretary Grace B. Hou, with 401 Clinton staff

?On Friday, July 26th, IDHS celebrated the 29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Staff members from across the state wore blue to show our support for civil rights protections for individuals with disabilities in Illinois.

Don't forget! You can also join the celebration, connect, share, and show your commitment to the ADA all year long by Pledging On! here:

We're Committed to Doing Better

SNAP Timeliness and Medicaid Backlog

This month, Governor Pritzker signed SB 1321 which was crafted by the bipartisan, bicameral Medicaid Legislative Working Group. The law will increase the timeliness of applications, redeterminations, and payments to providers, and decrease the number of Medicaid claims denials. Currently, the backlog of Medicaid applications is down 21% from January 2019. We are also now processing 89% of our SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) applications in 30 days or less, compared to 63% in January 2019.

IDHS has employed more than 300 staff since January 2019, many of whom are the frontline caseworkers doing the work to eliminate the backlogs.

In the Spotlight

Andrea Hall, Director of Strategy, Equity, and Transformation

Andrea Hall, Director of Strategy, Equity, and Transformation

Andrea was interviewed by our team. Check out her answers below!

What drew you to work for IDHS?

My background is in social work and community organizing, so working for DHS was a natural fit for me. Not only have I served low income and marginalized communities my whole career, but I'm also a former customer of DHS and grew up experiencing housing instability and homelessness. Working for DHS allows me to help make a greater change for our communities and reach thousands of people.

It's clear that a big part of Secretary Hou's vision can be captured in one word; equity. Can you describe three ways you will be helping to improve service for such a great mosaic of cultures, and people throughout Illinois?

My lens is equity, so my first 100 days on the job will be learning more about DHS and hearing from the customers, staff and providers on what they see is needed to improve customer service, processes and stakeholder engagement. I will partner with staff on improving customer service practices and celebrate current best practices, lead our efforts on improving our nomination process of boards and commissions using an equity lens, and assist with strategic planning at DHS and other human service agencies across Illinois.

What's something you want to do in the next year that you've never done before?

I would like to take my five year old daughter to Disney World. As a child I did not have the opportunity to go on vacations, so I want my daughter to experience what I was unable to. I may be more excited then she will be!

What's the greatest bit of advice a parent or mentor has given you?

The best advice I was given was "choose your battles wisely". As a community organizer over the years, there were many opportunities to "battle", however, you must be strategic first and explore the possibility of collaboration.

In five words or less, what advice would you give to Andrea when she was back in college?

Be patient in all aspects of your life. Friendships, intimate relationships, careers and family life. Make well thought out decisions and do not feel forced to do things you do not want to do. Always take care of yourself to the best of your ability and then see how you can help others.

What message would you like to share with our stakeholders?

It's a new day at IDHS and we are building a great team that reflects our values, the communities we serve, and shares our vision for the future we want for our customers and staff. We are here for you and we will not turn our back on anyone who needs our help.

We are hiring!

Join Our Team

Below are a couple of open positions, but you can also visit the Illinois state jobs' website for other IDHS positions.

Compliance & Quality Liaison Nurse for the Colbert Consent Decree

Medical Evaluator for the Colbert Consent Decree

Housing and Transition Liaison for the Colbert Consent Decree

Follow us!

Follow, and share our social media pages for more IDHS related updates.