2008 Legislative Update

2008 Legislative Update (pdf)

State of Illinois
Pat Quinn, Governor

Department of Human Services
Carol L. Adams. Ph.D., Secretary

Secretary's Message

Dear Legislators,

These are challenging times and when things get tough, citizens look to agencies like the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and our network of providers to help them make it through. The past year has seen our state hit by a series of natural disasters, challenged by an economic downturn, and reeling from incidents of campus and community violence. Stresses, both individual and collective, have brought people through our doors who have never had to reach out for assistance before. Challenged to do more with less, DHS has sought to increase efficiency, without sacrificing effectiveness, maximize federal dollars and invest our resources where they are needed most.

Working with you and other stakeholders, we have become increasingly transparent and  synergistic. The results have been gratifying - innovative programs and initiatives, improved service delivery, and even a few awards and bonuses. We have reordered program operations so that DHS now operates as ONE agency and not a group of silos. We remain committed to our goals of using technology effectively and making it easy for people to access our services. Increasingly, "Online, Not In Line" is becoming a reality.  Further, we have stepped up our efforts to forge strategic partnerships in the pursuit of new and viable resources. This report is meant to provide you with a snapshot of the past year's most notable accomplishments, some of which are highlighted below:

  • Since establishing our Office of Grants Administration, DHS has raised more than $193 million in public and private grant funding; $25.4 million in FY2008 alone.
  • We addressed crime and violence throughout Illinois with the creation of The Safety Net Works, a comprehensive program that provides at-risk youth ages 12 to 24 with positive alternatives in 17 communities throughout Chicago, Decatur, East St. Louis and Rockford.
  • Answering the call for Illinoisans to participate in community service, in FY2008, DHS recruited and trained 3,118 volunteers who performed more than 75,000 hours of service to DHS programs, facilities and schools. The approximate dollar amount of this volunteer effort was $1.4 million.
  • Enrollment in the DHS Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) reached an all time high of 304,972 in September 2008. WIC provides nutrition education and supplemental foods to low income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women and children up to 5 years old.
  • DHS coordinated job placement for 10,000 youth during the summer.
  • Our newly created Illinois Welcoming Center offered centralized services to more than 2,000 refugees and immigrants by partnering with community organizations, local providers, interfaith institutions and other state agencies.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture awarded Illinois for collecting Food Stamp Program Recipient Claims totaling more than $12 million, a 54 percent increase over last year.

For those of you who are new to the legislature, we hope this provides useful information as to the mission of the Department of Human Services. For those with whom we have worked in the past, we hope to serve you even better in the coming months, as we work together to serve your constituents. Look for us to get greener, as we move toward electronic record keeping and increased energy efficiency in our facilities.

Let's work together!

Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., Secretary

Smart Path Update

The Open Door pilot project was developed to improve service delivery to high need customers. Our goal is to guarantee full access to benefits and employment referrals as seamlessly and expeditiously as possible. This program serves to ensure that human services are available at a one-stop location rather than have people make multiple visits to various offices.

The Open Door pilot office opened in December 2007 at 743 North Pulaski in Chicago. During 2008 direct services and referrals were made to more than 350 people, of whom 100 received immediate relief in the form of client subsidy including food, clothing, medication, transportation and housing. Approximately 150 found employment due, in large part, to a partnership with Home Services and Vocational Rehabilitation programs available in the same North Pulaski location.

Illinois Welcoming Center

In 2003, DHS launched the Limited English Proficiency Initiative (LEP) as a major component of the agency's endeavor to serve New Americans. Our commitment to increase access to benefits and improve the quality of services for immigrants, refugees and other LEP people, soon evolved into the DHS New Americans Initiative, an integrant of a more expansive multi-agency effort, guided by the Governor's Office of New Americans Policy and Advocacy.

DHS was appointed the lead administrative agency for the 2005 Governor's New Americans Executive Order and continues to serve as co-chair of the Interagency Task Force.  DHS' New Americans Initiative provides comprehensive policies for services to LEP customers; encourages hiring, retention and reward for bilingual staff; standardizes data collection, analysis, and use of language assistance; offers on-line diversity training tools for DHS staff; includes an agency-wide, Administrative Directive for the provision of language interpretation services for LEP customers, and collaborates with the Office of New Americans.

In 2007, DHS opened the firstever Illinois Welcoming Center to provide a one-stop facility for new immigrants and other community residents needing services. Customers can receive expedited food stamp benefits, medical assistance, referral services, and other programs designed to facilitate integration into the community.  The Illinois Welcoming Center is located at 1708 Main St, Melrose Park, IL 60160. The New Americans Initiative is funded by the Michael Reese Foundation.

By the end of its first year, the Welcoming Center had exceeded expectations, serving an estimated 2,000 clients, with more than 98 percent of the people surveyed reporting satisfaction with the services received. In 2008, the Welcoming Center served more than 6,000 people during special "Welcoming Days" in Cook, DuPage, and Winnebago counties.

The Welcoming Center, with a bilingual staff that can access 29 languages, collaborates with community organizations, local providers and interfaith institutions. In addition to the Department of Human Services other partners are the: Department on Aging, Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Department of Employment Security,  Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Illinois Community College Board, Illinois State Board of Education and Department of Public Health.

Fiscal Responsibility

Increases in Federal Grant Funding

As of 2008, DHS secured more than $193 million in federal grant funding, with $25.4 million encumbered in the past 12 months. Some of the more significant grant awards are for: services to older refugees with funds totaling $1,602,235 for five years; nearly $500,000 for the fifth consecutive year for specialized breast feeding support to Illinois' families; and allocations for methamphetamine treatment, with year two (of three) funds totaling $4,636,800.

Medicare Part B

DHS saved nearly $14 million by challenging and negotiating rejected Medicare claims. In FY2008 Illinois Buy-In for Medicare Part B averaged 230,396 people per month, an increase of more than 8,000 since FY2007. Federal Medicare funds support DHS' customers' medical needs, allowing them to retain more of their personal income, and saving Illinois an enormous amount of money.

Redeploy Illinois

Costs related to commitments of youth to Juvenile Justice were reduced by 51 percent in 2008 as 400 youth who live in pilot site communities were successfully diverted.

Medicaid Waivers

In 2008, nearly $7 million in federal financial participation (FFP) have been deposited into the dedicated fund for persons with developmental disabilities, allowing DHS to serve more children and increase community-based opportunities. Federal matching funds for adults receiving Medicaid Waiver services have increased in 2008 by approximately $26 million.

DHS Volunteers

Answering the call for Illinoisans to participate in community service, in FY2008, DHS recruited and trained 3,118 volunteers who performed more than 75,000 hours of service to DHS programs, facilities and schools. The approximate dollar amount of this volunteer effort was $1.4 million.

Emergency (Room) Department Diversion

In 2008, a collaboration with Illinois' sole Medicaid provider, Healthcare & Family Services, DHS was awarded a competitive grant for Emergency (Room) Department Diversion, increasing support for Illinois' service system by more than $2 million.

Chief Financial Officer

Illinois is now considered one of the nation's leaders in collecting outstanding Food Stamp debt. The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service acknowledged DHS' Office of the Chief Financial Officer for leadership in collecting Food Stamp program recipient claims through the Treasury Offset Program. Categories for exemplary performance are: consistency in submitting timely, accurate and complete weekly files; total collections in excess of $106 million; and record 2008 collections exceeding $12 million, a 54 percent increase over last year.

Technology Enhancement

DHS technology received a significant boost when the Division of Mental Health launched the Illinois Developmental Disabilities Telehealth Network and Services Project in 2008. It offers monthly, interactive telehealth conferences for 24 centers and agencies throughout Illinois and at developmental disability sites in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin and Egypt.

The Prescription Information Library identifies potential drug users and targets misuse of pharmaceuticals by dispensers and prescribers. Emergency Room Physicians utilize the PIL website to save trauma patients and to turn away addicted individuals who use ERs as a drug source.

In May 2008, the process for requesting, approving, printing and tracking the Office of the Inspector General Administrative Subpoenas was completely automated. 

With the Illinois Toll Free Link Help Line our customers can now select or change personal identification numbers (PIN), check the status of a mailed Link card, review the last ten purchases made, report a lost or stolen card, and obtain account balances. English and Spanish speaking Link Help Line operators are available.  Language offerings through the automated system include Polish, Arabic, Mandarin, and Urdu. This improvement to customer service has reduced foot traffic in DHS Family Community Resource Centers to approximately 25,000 visits per month.

Vendor Information can now be submitted on-line with the Illinois Office of the Comptroller, reducing processing time for new vendors to be certified and recorded in DHS' accounting system.

DHS Offices and Employees

During FY2008, the DHS Office of the Inspector General completed a record 2,747 investigations, seven percent more than the last fiscal year and 15 percent more than FY2006.

For the second consecutive year, Illinois received two awards for exceptional performance in the Food Stamp Program for FFY2007 by staff in the Division of Human Capital Development. The announcement came during the 18th Annual Midwest BIG TEN Conference in July 2008. The HCD Team was honored for: best accuracy rate in the Midwest region, best overall score in four performance bonus areas: payment accuracy, negative case accuracy, participation, and timeliness of application processing.

The Division of Human Capital Development Family Community Resource Center in Lake County received the 2008 Hunger Champion Award at the United States Department of Agriculture State Food Stamp Directors' Conference for exemplary service while assisting eligible clients to obtain food stamp benefits.

During FY2008, a significant increase in quality service delivery in DHS' State Operated Hospitals (SOHs) was evident when the Respect Survey concluded that 79 percent of the consumers served in our hospitals agree that hospital employees believe in the patients' abilities to grow, change and recover.

People placed into employment by the Division of Rehabilitation Services staff increased to 39 percent  in FY2008, compared to 35 percent in FY2007, and 32 percent in FY2006.


Enrollment in the DHS Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) reached an all-time high of 304,972 in September 2008. WIC provides nutrition education and supplemental foods to low income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, and to children up to 5 years old.

On April 1, 2008, income eligibility guidelines for low income families applying for a Child Care Subsidy was increased to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.  In 2007, 86 percent of assisted  households maintained permanent housing status.  This year the Homeless Prevention Program served 12,441 households with rental assistance, mortgage assistance, utility assistance and security deposit assistance, a direct result of DHS' on-going commitment to stabilize Illinois families.

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program served 45,418 participants: 6,280 households with children, and 25,507 households without children, an aggregate of 2,004,407 nights of shelter, and 3,266,922 meals.

The Emergency Food Program, along with food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, distributed 12.7 million pounds of USDA commodities, and served more than 1.8 million households in the State of Illinois.

The Disaster Food Stamp Program was operated in seven northern Illinois counties during October 2008, in response to the federal disaster declaration in those communities due to flooding that occurred in September.  Nearly 28,000 families consisting of 82,260 people were issued more than $12.6 million in federal food stamp disaster assistance. A staff consisting of 446 employees from 19 DHS offices were involved in the administration of this program.

Youth Services

DHS funded 39 School-Based Health Centers that provided medical services to 23,516 children in FY2008.

The 2008 Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Discretionary University Grant Award was granted to DHS by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Illinois was the only state to receive the full grant award amount of $900,000.

In July and August 2008, DHS staff fielded nearly 7,500 customer calls and made nearly 5,400 referrals to at-risk youth who reside in Illinois for the Governor's Summer Youth Employment Program. Nearly 10,000 young people, from ages 13 to 22 years old, were hired for eight weeks to work with organizations in their communities, in transportation-related jobs on roads, highways and bike paths. Many were assigned to businesses in their neighborhoods like laundromats, corner stores, park districts and local municipal offices.

The Safety Net Works is a direct service response with preventive and rehabilitative approaches to addressing youth violence in Illinois. The program is designed to engage, cultivate and mobilize youth to become agents of social change and to bring healing to their communities. Safety Net Works coalition members are located in six cities, representing 17 communities and serve youth, ages 12 to 24 years old.

In August 2008, DHS initiated the Safety NETS Basketball League at four sites in Chicago, with 32 teams, 32 coaches and 320 players (10 players per team). More than 300 basketball players ages 18-26 participate in this sports program and regularly scheduled life enrichment workshops as a positive alternative to unlawful activities that occur in neighborhoods between the hours of 10pm and 2am. Sponsors of this initiative include The Chicago Area Project, The Black United Fund of Chicago, Black Entertainment Television, The Safer Foundation, and the South Central Community Center.


The Illinois State Diabetes Commission launched the first Black Barbershop Outreach Program in Illinois, targeted for African American men at risk of diabetes. More than 400 men and women participated in the screening activity and received health education information at 25 participating barbershops.

When tragedy struck at Northern Illinois University, resulting from the shooting deaths of several students in February 2008, DHS provided emergency mental health assistance to the university community. A three-month Emergency Response Grant in the amount of $49,716 was awarded to the agency by the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

DHS grabbed the public's attention with an innovative popular mental health services awareness campaign, "Say It Out Loud," launched in Chicago and Springfield and on DHS' "Recovery Radio" program, heard weekly on WVON.

Pregnant Women and Newborns

One of the most innovative outreach endeavors during 2008 was DHS' Case Management Program For High-Risk Pregnant Women at Cook County Jail in Chicago. This program is designed to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes by helping incarcerated women access medical care, housing, food/clothing, treatment for substance abuse, prostitution and other issues. The women are referred to community providers upon release.

In Decatur, Healthy Families Illinois (HFI) at the Macon County Health Department is participating in the Illinois Department of Corrections Moms and Babies pilot program, where some inmates' babies in the Decatur Correctional Center remain with them in prison for a specific amount of time. This program offers parenting skills training to other mothers in the prison who are either pregnant or near release and do not have their babies with them.

In 2008, WIC staff implemented the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders screening and intervention project in partnership with the FASD Center for Excellence operated by Northrup Grumman, Inc., to help women abstain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Nearly $990,000 is earmarked for the life of this five-year program.

Services for Persons with Disabilities

DHS and partners, including the Illinois Housing Development Authority and the Illinois Department on Aging, collaborated to fund a $2 million, state-funded, Home Modification Program supported by the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help people with disabilities and elderly people remain in their homes. Funds are awarded to local agencies to work with eligible households, and offer a $1,500 to $2,500 forgivable loan with a maximum amount per household of $5,000 for necessary home modifications.

People with disabilities placed into competitive employment in FY2007 showed an average increase in earnings of $12,033 in 2008. This represents a combined increase in annual earnings of $59.9 million for these successful customers.

More than 2,400 Hispanic and Latino people received services from the Division of Rehabilitation Services Home Services Program, an increase of 7.2 percent since FY2007.

In FY2008, DHS collaborated with Centers for Independent Living in Illinois to help 202 people with significant disabilities move from nursing facilities into their own homes in their communities. This represents an increase of 68 percent from last year.

Administrative Innovation and Expanding Access

The expansion of Mental Health Courts into DHS' five regions was in response to local and state judiciary needs to better serve defendants with mental health concerns. DHS expanded its role as the state mental health authority by providing services to children 0-7 and opening the Primary Care Consultation Line and DOC Assist, in partnership with the Department of Heathcare and Family Services.

During FY2008, 171 people were successfully transitioned from a State Operated Developmental Center to community placement. New admissions to SODCs were also reduced to 45 from the previous year's total of 71 admissions.

To aggressively prepare for, and respond to, natural or man-made disasters, security and workplace safety incidents and other emergencies, DHS has reorganized staff to create the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness (OSEP). It is the lead division for DHS' disaster preparedness and response in Illinois.

DHS launched two new programs in 2008: The State of Illinois Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Task Force on the Condition of African American Men in Illinois.

  • The State of Illinois Neighborhood Stabilization Program is administered by DHS, in strong partnership with the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). This program provides emergency assistance to local governments, developers, and non-profit organizations to acquire, redevelop, or resell foreclosed properties that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight within their communities. This program is funded for 18 months at $53 million.
  • The Illinois Task Force on the Condition of African American Men conducted seven, statewide town hall hearings, collected oral stories and personal testimonials from more than 2,000 stakeholders in eight sites, home to 70 percent of the African American males who reside in the state, according to the 2000 Census Report. Key decision-makers from cities and counties in Illinois participated in these forums, along with select Members of the 95th Illinois General Assembly, community based organizations, faith based organizations, educators, entrepreneurs, and numerous stakeholders from multifarious communities addressed issues concerning African American men. The Task Force has accomplished much work. To date the education, health, criminal justice, fatherhood and economic development sub-committees are in the process of drafting preliminary reports.  Moreover, the Task Force work groups have completed preparatory reports on causal factors and an inventory of existing social service programs.

Legislative Update

In 2008, Members of the Illinois General Assembly passed and the Governor signed into law a number of bills that positively impact the human services delivery system. These include:

HB 4369 creates the Commission on the Elimination of Poverty. The purpose of the Commission is to comprehensively address poverty in Illinois - consistent with international human rights standards. The initial goal of the Commission is to develop a poverty elimination strategic plan to reduce extreme poverty in Illinois by 50 percent or more by 2015.

HB 4456 creates the Commission on Children and Youth Act. The purposes of the Commission are: to create a comprehensive 5-year strategic plan for providing services to children, youth and young adults, ages birth to 24 in Illinois; monitor the implementation of the strategic plan; and review and, if deemed appropriate, revise the strategic plan.

SB 0934 provides, for individuals under 21 years of age, coverage for autism spectrum disorders to the extent that the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders are not already covered by the policy or plan. This coverage is subject to a maximum benefit of $36,000 per year, but is not subject to any limits on the number of visits to an autism service provider.

SB 1864 creates the Council on Responsible Fatherhood Act of 2008. The goals of this fatherhood initiative are to increase awareness of the problems created when a child grows up without the presence of a responsible father; to identify obstacles that impede or prevent the involvement of responsible fathers in the lives of their children; to identify strategies that are successful in overcoming identified obstacles and in encouraging responsible fatherhood; and to facilitate the transition from current policies, perceptions and practices that adversely affect the participation of fathers in their children's lives to policies, perceptions and practices that promote the contributions of responsible fathers.

SB 2012 creates the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Task Force to study and make recommendations regarding the structure of the chronic disease prevention and health promotion system in Illinois, as well as changes that should be made to the system in order to integrate and coordinate efforts in the State and ensure continuity and consistency of purpose and the elimination of disparity in the delivery of this care in Illinois.

SB 2821 creates the Interstate Compact for Juveniles Act of 2008. The bill authorizes the Governor to enter into the Interstate Compact for Juveniles and increases the membership on the State Council for Interstate Compacts.

SB 2877 requires DHS to include mental health awareness, education and outreach materials within its public health promotion programs and that information be directed toward minority population groups in Illinois. This information informs members of minority communities about mental illness, the types of services and supports available and how treatment may be obtained.

Illinois Department of Human Services

Visit our web site at www.dhs.state.il.us to learn about the latest news at IDHS.

401 S. ClintonDHS Logo
Chicago, Illinois 60607

100 South Grand Avenue East
Springfield, Illinois 62762

Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., Secretary
(312) 793-1547 (217) 557-1601

Randy Wells, Director of Legislative Affairs
(217) 557-1551

Aurelio Huertas Fabrizio, Director of Community Relations
(312) 793-2342

Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs. Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois.  (03/09)