10/28/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - Virtual Day Services

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Good Afternoon IDHS Staff,

Across Illinois, individuals have had to struggle with adjusting to living in the time of COVID-19. Our simplest daily activities and pleasures have been challenged - from how we engage in work to how (and if) we visit with our friends and family. For many individuals living with a developmental disability, COVID has provided unique challenges in their ability to access site-based Community Day Service Programs that provide recreation, skills building, and opportunities for socialization. I'm thrilled to share the work of the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to create an innovative virtual solution to this engagement.

The DDD provides funding to over 300 Community Day Services programs that serve more than 20,000 individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. These programs include purposeful and meaningful activities and are designed to help individuals build skills, while also giving them opportunities for more independence and personal choice. Programs may include daily living skills instruction, community outings, vocational training, employment opportunities, and recreation. In March, these sites closed, leaving many individuals cut off from their regular activities and programming, and their primary way of socializing and seeing friends. After receiving feedback from participants and providers, it appeared that there was a desire to provide these services virtually. Aware of the constraints in designing a new program, DDD persevered to come together in August to create the framework of a new Virtual Day Services (VDS) remote program.

DDD laid the groundwork by contacting other states and providers, working on a rate for services, writing service definitions, and working with our partnering agency, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to recognize VDS as an allowable service under our waiver. DDD also created new forms, and worked with DoIT to reprogram the billing system. Eager to assist the individuals in the program, it took the team only six weeks to get VDS situated - compared to the estimated six months.

Virtual Day Services became effective as an official service 10/1. Providers and individuals are excited for this new opportunity and are already signing on. Thank you, and congratulations to all who worked on this effort. I look forward to watching this program grow, and supporting your work in expanding this program to more individuals.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS