Message from the Secretary
The end of the calendar year has always been a time for reflection and planning - looking back at the year coming to a close, and looking forward for what is yet to come.
In state government "speak," it is also the mid-point in our fiscal year which is a milestone that inspires me to think about what we have started and what we aim to complete in the next six months.
All this to say, it has prompted me to pause briefly in the midst of all that we are doing to make Illinois stronger, healthier, and more just.
I'd like to share a few highlights, most of which reflect the incredible work of staff throughout IDHS:
- The backlog of people waiting more than 45 days for review of their Medicaid application was cut in half, to about 70,000 from a peak of about 140,000.
- The child care program expanded eligibility to families making 200% of the federal poverty line, and increased enrollment by roughly 20,000.
- Payment rates for community based organizations caring for people with disabilities and children improved.
- More than 500 new front-line staff began at IDHS to undo the hollowing out of our local offices.
- Built a solid, compassionate, kind, bold, diverse leadership team.
- Launched a philanthropy roundtable to strengthen public-private solutions to the most vexing problems we face.
- Organized the largest per-capita Census outreach program in the country.
I'm looking forward to continuing to tackle big goals in 2020. Putting more people with disabilities to work, continuing to strengthen our system for behavioral health, making Illinois the best state in the nation for young children, pursuing an equity agenda in all of our divisions, and increasing the quality of care in our 24/7 facilities, just to name a few.
I want to extend unyielding gratitude to IDHS' community partners - who have been willing to share information candidly with staff at IDHS and rebuild trust that eroded in recent years.
Within the challenges of this job, I find joy in my work through my colleagues, stories of those who we serve, and I am ever inspired by the critical nature of our mission. I remain honored to work with Governor Pritzker and a great team of people who share his commitment to the public interest and the common good. I wish you a season of warmth and holiday happiness, and a new year of peace and progress.
IDHS is working to create strategic partnerships with private philanthropy across Illinois -- to create opportunities for ongoing dialogue, learning and collaboration.
In August, Secretary Hou, Helene Gayle, President and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust and Gillian Darlow, President of the Polk Bros. Foundation, co-chaired a roundtable discussion with philanthropic organization leaders from across the state. A second, more focused meeting was held in December where Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor to the Governor, spoke on the legalization of recreational cannabis which will take effect in January.
In addition to shared learning, a goal of this effort is to identify areas where a public-private partnership can propel the public interest forward. Opportunities for meaningful collaboration are already emerging. For more information about this work, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Funding Opportunities
IDHS issues many Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) throughout the year for our programs. You can find new funding opportunities on the IDHS Grant Opportunities web page. Below are several new opportunities.
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.
Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
The purpose of the Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention (DVPI) services is to provide services to clients who are or have been victims of or threatened with domestic violence or abuse, whether physical, sexual, or emotional.There are two types of DVPI programs: Comprehensive Services and Specialized Domestic Violence Legal Services (SDVLS). Historically, IDHS has funded DVPI Comprehensive Services statewide and DVPI Specialized Domestic Violence Legal Services in Cook County.This NOFO is designed to pilot two models of Domestic Violence Legal Services in downstate Illinois. This funding opportunity is posted on the DVPI NOFO web page.
Illinois to Become Best State for Child Care
Governor Pritzker is continuing his promise to support families raising young children in Illinois. The governor recently announced that IDHS will be increasing reimbursements to child care providers in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), and he appointed 29 members of the newly created Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding.
To read more about the expansion of CCAP and the new commission, visit the the Governor's website.
Together, Let's End Child Hunger
On Friday, November 1st, Secretary Hou joined Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton and Kate Maehr, CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, to announce a new plan to reduce child hunger by 2022 and announce the appointment of Deputy Governor Sol Flores as co-chair of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger.
"The Illinois Department of Human Services shares the belief that no woman, man, or child in Illinois should be faced with hunger or not know where their next meal is coming from," said Secretary Hou. "This administration is committed to providing the best services and programs for residents across the state who face food insecurity, and we're working to make it easier for them to get that help."
You can read more about the announcement on the Lawndale News website.
Governor JB Pritzker and IDHS Celebrate One-of-a-Kind Community Partnership in Lawndale
On Wednesday, November 20th, IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou joined Governor JB Pritzker and the Lawndale Christian Health Center CEO Bruce Miller to celebrate a new, one-of-a-kind local IDHS office partnership that is making health care and traditional public benefits available in one location!
The IDHS office is co-located with the Lawndale Christian Health Center (LCHC) at 3910 and 3920 W. Ogden Ave in Chicago. This innovative co-location provides traditional IDHS services like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Medicaid and cash assistance, along with a range of healthcare services including immediate care, dental services, women's health services, a pharmacy and many other services for children, seniors and everyone in between.
IDHS is also working to enhance customer service for Illinoisans who receive state assistance, prioritizing quicker response times on applications, and making more caseworkers available. In addition, IDHS was recently awarded over $650,000 from the US Department of Agriculture to develop a new, centralized case management call center so customers aren't waiting for hours on the phone to get help.
Everyone Counts in Illinois!
On December 4th, the Office of Governor JB Pritzker, our Illinois 2020 Census Office, and the Illinois State Board of Education hosted a Census EDU Summit in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau. Education leaders, practitioners, and partners were invited to the half-day summit to learn more about the 2020 Census and how schools can play a central role in helping Illinois reach hard to count populations.
Speakers included Governor JB Pritzker, Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson, Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz, City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgad, IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou, State Superintendent Dr. Carmen I. Ayala, members from the U.S. Census Bureau, and more.
Faces of Employment
Submitted by: Sarah Wright, Director of Development & Communications, The Arc of the Quad Cities Area
Skyiler, an employee at Happy Joe's, has been working for over six weeks as a dishwasher. While he's happy with all aspects of the job, Skyiler's favorite part about working at Happy Joe's is the food, though he says the money isn't bad. Skyiler often gets praised for the good work he does. "He gets his dishes done early almost every day," says his boss Erin. "We're thrilled to have Skyiler here."
Read his full story on our IDHS website.
Submitted by: John Mallaney, Executive Director, Streator Unlimited, Inc.
Andy was part of the RICES grant that was awarded to Streator Unlimited in 2008 that provided extensive training in customized employment from Griffin/Hammis and Associates. After getting to know Andy and realizing he was such a people-person, Andy attended and later joined the Kiwanis Club. It was there that he met Pete Honiotes, General Manager of Bill Walsh Automotive Group in Streator, IL.
For the past 10 years, Andy's employment has truly been a win-win for all. Andy, his family, his job coach, his employer and his coworkers all agree that Bill Walsh and Andy were a perfect match.
Read his full story on our IDHS website.
Submitted by: Carrie Flynn, Certified Employment Support Professional, Association for Individual Development
Kristi has been working at Pampered Pets in East Dundee since August 26th of this year. She is a part time Pet Care Technician and her job duties are interacting with the dogs, monitoring dog play and cleaning up after them.
Kristi had been attending the Association for Individual Development Training Center in Elgin three days a week up until she obtained the opportunity of working at her "dream job". She has been known to say, "It's awesome, I get paid to hang out with dogs."
Read her full story on our IDHS website.
MICRO-Market, BIG Success
Giovanni Francese is a participant of the IDHS Business Enterprise Program for the Blind. He is completely blind and owns a successful micro-mart in a large condominium in Chicago.
Recently, Giovanni and our Division of Rehabilitation Services Director, Rahnee Patrick, were featured on CBS Channel 2 in Chicago. Check out their story on the CBS website!
We're Committed to Doing Better
You deserve this.
IDHS and HFS recently received federal approval for a 3.5% rate increase for the three IDHS Division of Developmental Disabilities' waivers. We are equally happy to share that the rate increases have an effective date of July 1,2019, as we requested.
Please hold tight as we will have more information for you in the coming weeks!
In the Spotlight
Peter Neumer, Inspector General for IDHS
Our new Inspector General for IDHS, Peter Neumer, was interviewed by our team. Check out his answers below!
What drew you to work for IDHS or to work for people with disabilities?
I believe strongly in the mission of IDHS OIG and, more broadly, believe that the humanity of all people must be respected and fought for.
What's something you want to do in the next year that you've never done before?
Travel to Portugal.
What's the greatest bit of advice you've received?
"If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough." This is from David Foster Wallace's commencement speech.
What's your favorite movie quote?
"Every happy man should have someone with a little hammer at his door to knock and remind him that there are unhappy people, and that, however happy he may be, life will sooner or later show its claws, and some misfortune will befall him illness, poverty, loss, and then no one will see or hear him, just as he now neither sees nor hears others. But there is no man with a hammer, and the happy go on living, just a little fluttered with the petty cares of every day, like an aspen tree in the wind."
What message would you like to share with our stakeholders?
I understand I have much to learn about the operations of IDHS but I am committed to doing so as quickly as possible.
Join the Fun and Work for IDHS!
Become a Human Caseworker - Here's How!
- Go to the Work4Illinois website. This page will provide information on the hiring practices in the State. Click on "Job Postings." This will take you to a page where you can search any job in Illinois. There are several search criteria that you can select. The number next to each item shows the current number of jobs posted in those categories.
- For caseworker positions, the position titles to select are "Human Services Caseworker (HSC)" or "Social Services Career Trainee (SSCT)." SSCT is merely the trainee title for HSCs. One note - Anything that says "Opt SS" at the end of the position title means that the position requires the candidate to speak Spanish.
- Once you select a record, it will take you to the job description and tell you how to apply.
- To be a DHS caseworker, the applicant will need to take a test and get a grade. The instructions for taking the test can be found online.
- Each applicant will need to fill out a CMS100 form. Information on how to fill out the CMS100 can be found on the Work4Illinois website.
Other New Job Openings
Below are a couple of additional positions we have open, but you can also visit the Illinois state jobs' website for other IDHS positions.
Registered Nurses (17), Dwight, IL
Rehabilitation Counselor Trainees (12): Waukegan, Mattoon, Springfield, Chicago: 8600 South Pulaski Road, Chicago: 6200 North Hiawatha, Chicago: 7600 South Pulaski, Chicago: 1151 South Wood Street, Chicago: 743 North Pulaski, Chicago: 8620 South Pulaski (Wrightwood), Chicago Heights, Rock Island, and Anna, IL.