Message from the Secretary
People often ask me, "how are things going?" After six months as Secretary, I thought that I had exhausted every adjective for "busy."
A colleague suggested "abundant" which I think describes well how I feel about our work: large quantities, having plenty of, plentiful. Our work at DHS is indeed abundant.
Every year, IDHS staff touch the lives of millions; we employ nearly twelve thousand; we partner with thousands of organizations; we occupy hundreds of buildings and spaces; we reach every corner of the state; and we have a big mission. We also have plenty of challenges only to be surpassed by the abundance of opportunities. I feel privileged to be in this role and honored to be of service to our state.
I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in a short amount of time. The Division of Family and Community Services has increased SNAP timeliness to 90%, up from 65% in March.
We have recruited a diverse, highly-talented group of leaders to represent and work on behalf of the people of Illinois. We have been able to fill crucial front-line vacancies and we've started to turn around long-neglected consent decrees and service backlogs that span our five divisions.
Still, we have a lot more work to do.
I have been able to find time to get out more into the community, to visit community partners and providers, and to see and meet staff from our offices and facilities in different parts of the state.
As I reflect on these experiences, I realize how much I love our state and the people who work in our sector. I have only been greeted with warmth and graciousness. I relish these opportunities to learn, listen, and identify how I and DHS can help.
I look forward to meeting more of you and seeing every part of our state.
Thank you for your interest and partnership in what we do.
Illinois Department of Human Services
Let's Work Together
Social Services Advisory Council (SSAC)
The Illinois Department of Human Services relies on its boards and commissions as an important strategy to hear directly from our provider-partners across the state, understand the need of the clients we serve through our five divisions across the IDHS, and to engage in authentic dialogue and information sharing.
We are currently accepting nominations and applications for consideration of membership for our Social Services Advisory Council (SSAC). IDHS has for many years benefited from the commitment, passion, knowledge and experience of the members of this commission since its inception in 1991. We are excited to re-constitute this important body with a renewed energy and commitment to diversity, equity, and broad representation of the services we provide at IDHS.
The nomination form should be completed on the IDHS website by November 8, 2019 for consideration. You can learn more about the legislative intent and parameters by reading the authorizing legislation here. If you have any questions related to the process, you can direct those inquiries to the same email address: DHS.Boards@illinois.gov.
We value your partnership and know that together we can improve the lives of those we serve across our great state.
New Funding Opportunities
IDHS provides many funding opportunities throughout the year for our programs. You can find new funding opportunities on the IDHS Grant Opportunities web page. Below are several new opportunities.
Custer Permanent Supportive Housing
This NOFO aims to implement a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Cluster Housing model that would be a means to facilitate the transition of more challenging Williams Class Members to their own apartments. The PSH Cluster Housing model is designed to provide on the premises resource support to Class Members living in their own apartments. This funding opportunity is posted on the PSH Cluster Housing NOFO web page.
Oxford House Expansion
This NOFO aims to increase access to Oxford Houses for Illinois residents with substance use disorders (SUDs) by funding two Project Management Organizations (PMOs) that will be responsible for establishing five Oxford Houses per year. These Oxford Houses will include residents who are on medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD). The Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) expects that PMOs will provide fiscal management, tenancy support, recovery support, and housing development. This NOFO especially encourages applications in the central and southern regions of the state, although providers throughout the state are encouraged to apply. The competitive funding opportunity is posted on the SUPR Grants web page.
This NOFO provides the opportunity for licensed SUD treatment providers to apply for additional funding to deliver gambling disorder treatment services. The NOFO also provides an opportunity for other community-based organizations to apply for funding to provide aggressive outreach to populations and areas of the state that are most impacted by the expansion of gambling in Illinois. Please encourage organizations in your network, especially those that focus specifically on hard to reach populations, to review SUPR Grants Web Page to get prequalified and to watch for the opportunity to be posted. This opportunity will be posted on the Gambling Disorder NOFO web page.
Gambling Disorder Needs Assessment
IDHS is seeking bids to conduct the first needs assessment study of gambling disorders in Illinois. The primary goals of the state-wide study are to examine the prevalence of legalized gambling and its patterns, the State's capacity to meet the needs of individuals with gambling disorders, and the characteristics of individuals at-risk for gambling disorders. The Request for Proposal can be found at www.bidbuy.illinois.gov. Proposals are due by November 19th at 2 pm.
This NOFO aims to provide services to individual homeless youth to increase their safety, well-being, and self-sufficiency. All funded projects will effectively demonstrate the capacity to implement a holistic model that includes an outreach component, an emergency shelter/interim housing component and a transitional living component. This continuum of care would allow a youth to enter the program at any stage and afford them the opportunity to transition from one component to the next if appropriate. This NOFO is posted on the Homeless Youth NOFO web page.
The Future of IDHS
Secretary Hou was the featured speaker at the City Club of Chicago Luncheon last month. She spoke about her approach to work every day, why all Illinois residents should value and protect our mission, the state of IDHS when she took over six months ago, and our goals for the future.
You can find the full speech on WGN Radio.
Protecting Our Immigrant Neighbors
IDHS Assistant Secretary, Dulce Quintero, participated in a Univision Town Hall discussing the effects of the federal public charge rule on our communities. IDHS and the state remain committed to immigrants in Illinois. Watch the full Town Hall on the Univision Facebook Page.
Learn more about the public charge rule and where to find guidance in the links below.
Make the Right Choice Fact Sheet English
Make the Right Choice Fact Sheet Spanish
Community Partners Contact List
On October 3rd, IDHS Assistant Secretary, Kia Coleman, participated in a press event with RefugeeOne, Senator Dick Durbin, and other advocates to express our support for refugees. Illinois is and always will be a welcoming state.
Governor Pritzker provided the following statement for our refugee communities.
"President Trump's latest action limiting refugee resettlement is an insult to our nation's best ideals and an invocation of its darkest history. To reject refugees is to deny the most fundamental ties of humankind: that when all other hope is lost, we have each other.
As President Trump intensifies his attacks on the immigrant community, Illinois will stand with the courageous organizations and individuals across this nation in the fight to hold the United States of America to its own principles of liberty and justice for all."
IDHS Launches Video Campaign for Opioid Treatment
Last month, the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) launched a new statewide video campaign to bring awareness to the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances. The Illinois Helpline connects individuals struggling with opioid use or other substance use, and anyone affected by the disease, directly with treatment and recovery options.
SUPR continues to implement strategies targeted at reducing the effects of substance use disorders in Illinois. Since the launch of the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances and HelplineIL.org, IDHS has received over 16,700 calls and over 40,000 website visits.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an opioid use disorder or other substance use disorders, call the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at 1-833-2FINDHELP or visit HelplineIL.org.
You can view the videos here:
Help is Here: The Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances
Help is Here: Laura and Alex's Story
Help is Here: Rex's Story
Help is Here: Laurie's Story
La Ayuda Está Aquí: La Historia de Diana
Making Child Care More Accessible and Affordable
Governor Pritzker and IDHS have expanded eligibility and affordability for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), effective October 1st.
Families with income of 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) or lower will now be able to receive child care assistance through CCAP, increased from previous eligibility set at 185% FPL.
The program also now allows families whose income increases up to 225% FPL to remain in the program if they previously qualified at 200% FPL or lower. This means a family of three could earn up to $42,660 ($3,555/month) at their initial application and remain eligible for assistance even if their income increases to $48,000 ($4,000/month).
Families will also have a three-month, graduated phase-out if their income increases above the 225% FPL "exit-level." This means if a family of three's income exceeds $48,000 (but stays under $63,840), they would still receive 90 days of subsidized child care.
In addition to eligibility changes, IDHS has been working to promote the Child Care Assistance Program and encourage participation. In August 2019, 131,766 children were enrolled in CCAP, which is the highest enrollment number of the last three fiscal years. Since January 2019, CCAP enrollment has increased by 14,801 children.
?The Child Care Assistance Program recently launched a Facebook page and posts program updates and promotional information about CCAP frequently. You can find the CCAP Facebook at facebook.com/IllinoisCCAP.
An easy-to-use Child Care Assistance Program Eligibility Calculator to help families determine their eligibility is available now on the IDHS website.
Meet Our Team
Andre Jordan, Director of Legislation
Andre started at IDHS on September 30 as Director of Legislation. Since 2014, Andre has worked for AARP, as Associate State Director for Advocacy and Outreach, and as Interim Director of the Office of Community Engagement.
Andre has more than 20 years of experience working through complex issues and building deep relationships with members of the General Assembly. He started his career as an Analyst for the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and has served in legislative leadership roles for the Senate Democratic staff, the Secretary of State Jesse White and Governor Pat Quinn.
Andre earned a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield and a BA from Mississippi Valley State University. He is a trustee of Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Library board.
We're Committed to Doing Better
We're on Target!
IDHS is now processing over 90% of our SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) applications in 30 days or less, compared to 63% in January 2019. This is ahead of our target to hit 90% in November 2019.
IDHS has employed more than 300 staff since January 2019, many of whom are the front line caseworkers doing the work to speed up processing.
In the Spotlight
Our new Director of Developmental Disabilities, Allison Stark, was interviewed by our team. Check out her answers below!
What drew you to work for IDHS or to work for people with disabilities?
I'm passionate about creating opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independent and self-determined lives. One area, in particular, I'm excited about is expanding options for community integrated employment. So much of one's identity is intertwined with how we spend our days and what we "do." I've seen individuals transformed through having a paid job in the community. I want this opportunity for all individuals across the state.
What's something you want to do in the next year that you've never done before?
My mother-in-law recently finished breast cancer treatment. She hasn't traveled outside the United States. I'm looking forward to helping her plan a trip to London, a place she has always wanted to visit. I can't wait to celebrate with her over a cup of tea and scones.
What's the greatest bit of advice you've received?
The best advice I've received, and in turn have given others, is to "manage expectations." I have always found that things work out best when people have the information they need to be informed and understand what's going to happen.
What's your favorite movie quote?
"So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." - Gandalf from Fellowship of the Ring
What message would you like to share with our stakeholders?
I am excited about Secretary Hou's vision for IDHS and am grateful that I get to be a part of the team. I'm committed to building trust, better communication, and moving the Division of Developmental Disabilities forward to better meet the needs of individuals, families, providers, and stakeholders.
Join the Fun and Work for IDHS!
Below are a couple of open positions, but you can also visit the Illinois state jobs' website for other IDHS positions.
Facility Director for Murray Developmental Center, Centralia, IL
Colbert Medical Evaluator, Chicago, IL
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