Rehabilitation Services Annual Report 2012

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

Message from the Chair

On behalf of the members of the Illinois State Rehabilitation Council (ISRC), we are proud to present the Department of Human Services' Division of Rehabilitation Services (DHS/DRS) Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2012!

An annual report is much more than an accumulation of numbers; it is a vehicle to showcase the array of vocational rehabilitation programs and services the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) provides, as well as a voice to acknowledge the day-to-day efforts of DRS field staff and the commitment and leadership of the administration.

Under past Acting Director Kristine A. Smith's stewardship, the agency was able to increase the number of competitive outcomes for their customers and saw average monthly earnings increase over 7% from last fiscal year. Outreach and services provided to minorities and individuals under the age of 20 also increased and has served to strengthen relationships with community partners, stakeholders, individuals with disabilities, and their families.

The working relationship between the ISRC and DRS remains strong as the pair have been working together on a three (3) year Needs Assessment and recently partnered with graduate students at Illinois State University to develop and administer both Customer and Provider Satisfaction Surveys. The results were reported and will be used to help determine and shape the goals and objectives of the agencies Strategic Plan.

Despite a struggling economic climate, the Division of Rehabilitation Services remains committed to making a difference in the lives of Illinoisans with disabilities. Members of the ISRC and I look forward to meeting the challenges of a new year and partnering with Director David Hanson and his dedicated staff to empower individuals with disabilities to reach their employment, education, and independent living goals!

Greg Polman, Chair
Illinois State Rehabilitation Council

Message from the Secretary and Director

"Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life's worst hazards and misfortune ... We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss or sudden illness or a home swept away from a terrible storm… For we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action ... We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government… And empower our citizens with the skills they need to work hard, learn more, and reach higher."

President Barack Obama, in his second inaugural speech, reinforced the mission of the Illinois Department of Human Services' Division of Rehabilitation Services (IDHS/DRS): DRS works in partnership with people with disabilities and their families to empower them in making informed choices to achieve full community participation through employment, education, and independent living opportunities.

While the fiscal pressures facing the state continue to challenge all state agencies and programs to do more with less, the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) has remained value driven in providing Platinum Customer Service and creating a culture of caring in offices across the state. Over this past year, there have been a lot of successes and achievements accomplished through the dedication, commitment and innovation of all the hardworking staff at DRS.

In the pages that follow, we have tried to encapsulate the wide array of programs and services DRS provided in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. Creating an annual report is a difficult task because the numbers represent actual people that we have come to know and partnered with to make a difference in their lives! These individuals are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers and have much to give to their families and communities.

As we look forward to the new initiatives in FY 2013, we are aware of the many challenges that lie ahead. I am confident that as a team we'll meet those challenges head on and continue moving the agenda for individuals with disabilities and their families forward.


Michelle R.B. Saddler, Secretary 
Illinois Department of Human Services 

David Hanson, Director
Division of Rehabilitation Services

Program Descriptions

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

We assist people with disabilities in seeking and maintaining quality employment that pays a living wage and offers opportunities for advancement. Our staff works closely with state, regional and local employers to offer individualized placement services that bring employers and qualified employees together.

Home Services

We provide services to people with the most significant disabilities so they can remain in their homes and live as independently as possible. Our customers are empowered to live self-directed lives, to be actively involved in their communities, and to retain control over the services they receive.

Educational Services

DRS operates three residential schools for children with disabilities:

  • Illinois School for the Deaf (Jacksonville)
  • Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (Jacksonville)
  • Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt (Chicago)

We offer information and transition training to parents of children with disabilities and professionals through our NEXT STEPS program.

Our staff works alongside high school students with disabilities, empowering them to successfully transition from high school to post-secondary education and employment.

Specialized Services

Our specialized services are designed for:

  • Persons who are Blind or Visually Impaired.

    We empower adults who are blind or visually impaired to rediscover their independence and freedom. Our customers find and maintain employment and achieve their education, training, and independent living goals.

    The Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Wood in Chicago also offers a 12-week residential vocational and independent skills training program.

  • Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

    We help people who are deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened, or deaf/blind find employment, attend education and training programs, and learn about other community resources.

  • Persons with disabilities who are Hispanic/Latino.

    Our bilingual staff assist Hispanic/Latino people with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment, applying for DHS/DRS programs, and connecting with community services.

Independent Living Services

We empower people with disabilities to make informed choices by funding Centers for Independent Living (CILs) throughout Illinois. These CILs offer advocacy, peer counseling, independent living skills training and information & referral.

Disability Determination Services

We determine the eligibility of people to receive benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Client Assistance Program

The Client Assistance Program (CAP) helps people with disabilities who have questions or problems with DRS services. For more information, call

1-800-641-3929 (Voice/TTY).

Information and Referral Services

Our staff share information about programs and services available through DHS/DRS and other state agencies. We also connect individuals and their families with services they need in the community.

You can find the closest office using the DHS online office locator at:

or by calling toll free:

1-877-761-9780 (Voice) or
1-866-264-2149 (TTY) or
1-866-588-0401 (VP)

Program Highlights

DRS Outreach to Minority Persons with Disabilities

In the last three years DRS has developed a variety of projects aimed at reaching out to people with disabilities in various minority communities. The focus has been on developing effective methods of identifying community agencies and resources most capable of interacting with potential customers in their native languages and explaining the benefits of DRS services.

Since 2010 DRS has funded ADOPT (Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project) in cooperation with the University of Illinois at Chicago. Originally part of the DRS ARRA effort, ADOPT targeted Asian communities in the Chicago area in order to explain DRS services and develop relationships that would lead to referrals to our programs. The two primary provider agencies were Asian Human Services and the Chinese Mutual Aid Society. In the first year over 225 referrals were made to DRS through these agencies. Although ARRA funding has ended, DRS has continued funding to these providers to promote ongoing outreach and generate referrals, as well as produce job placements. In FY2012, the number of Asian customers successfully rehabilitated increased by 67 percent over the figure for FY2011.

Another outreach effort is focused on Latinos with disabilities and involves the Federacion Jaliscienses, known as FEDEJAL, a community agency working primarily with individuals immigrating from Mexico. In its project with DRS, FEDEJAL aims to increase the knowledge and awareness among Latino small business owners about the advantages of hiring individuals with disabilities. FEDEJAL provides training to small business owners, maintains a job bank on their website, distributes flyers, makes announcements and provides information at their social and business functions throughout the year. Staff visit several local businesses monthly to advocate for hiring of people with disabilities, reaching over 1,800 businesses since 2010.

DRS VR Program Boosts Productivity

FY2012, DRS assisted 4,953 individuals in achieving a competitive employment outcome, an increase of 10.5 percent over the previous fiscal year. This represents the first positive year-to-year growth in outcomes for the VR program in four years and suggests that the impact of the national recession may be fading for VR customers.

Employment means having the capacity to earn an income and be self-sufficient. For individuals closed successfully in FY2012, the average annual earnings increased by $12,718 compared to earnings prior to receiving VR services. This represents total earnings of $63 million and estimated tax payments of $5.6 million for this group of successful individuals.

In addition to an increase in outcomes, the earnings picture for the typical customer increased somewhat in FY2012. The average hourly earnings of successful individuals rose 3.1 percent to $10.50, while the average weekly earnings rose 4.3 percent, to $292. The average number of hours worked per week rose only 1.1 percent.

The rehabilitation rate is the percentage of closed cases that were successful and is a key measure in the VR program. In FY2012, the rehabilitation rate rose to 55.1 percent from 54.0 in FY2011.

Also notable was an increase of 21.6 percent in the number of successful closures who had participated in college or university training through DRS, to 265 college closures in FY2012. This reverses a trend in recent years and represents a very positive development.

Individual Placement and Support Program Achieves National Recognition

Individual Placement and Support services, known as IPS, is the most effective model for providing VR services to individuals with psychiatric disabilities. The model is based on coordination of ongoing support and requires a high level of interagency collaboration. IPS services in Illinois are provided by DRS in cooperation with the DHS Division of Mental Health and several community provider agencies. In 2012 the Illinois program was recognized as one of the most effective in the country by Dartmouth University. DRS has also supported the fidelity review process, which ensures that community provider agencies adhere to IPS principles.

In FY2012, DRS provided IPS services to around 1,400 individuals and achieved a rehabilitation rate of 63.8 on closed cases. This compares very favorably to a rate of 55.1 for DRS VR services overall. In FY2012, 163 individuals were closed as successful employment outcomes after participating in IPS services, following figures of 183 in FY2011 and 133 in FY2010. Based on this level of success, DRS looks to expand IPS services in the coming year.

Meet Some of the People Working with DRS

Jose Antonio (Tony) Galvez

Jose Antonio (Tony) Galvez has not only benefited from the services provided through The Division of Rehabilitation Services vocationally, socially and independently, he has also used these skills to help others. As a volunteer fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he uses creativity and hard work to develop events that benefit the association. His first three events raised over $15,000 for the MDA. Tony's passion for advocacy and fundraising has enabled him to connect more with his community and reach his true capabilities. He credits the support he receives from DRS as a factor in building his confidence as a fundraiser. His story is one that signifies how one person can impact the lives of so many. "You shouldn't let your physical or mental condition stop you from reaching your goals," Tony said. "Any path is available to you if you set your mind to it."

Byron Harden

Byron Harden is a professional musician and owner of On the Moon Recording Studios. He has been visually impaired since the age of 7 and began his relationship with DRS as a student at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville. As a musician Byron has toured all over the country and played at the Grammy Awards festivities. While Byron maintains a passion for playing music, he developed an interest in the recording industry, both to record his own music and produce recordings for others. With the assistance of the DRS Bureau of Blind Services Byron was able to remodel a commercial space and install the equipment necessary to have a modern recording studio. Assistive technology was used to make standard recording software accessible to Byron. His studio now produces recordings for a variety of performers in a range of musical styles.

Dianna Noonan

Dianna Noonan's career as a Physical Therapist came from blending her love of sports and healthcare. At the age of four, Dianna was diagnosed with hearing loss. She remembers how difficult it was to advocate for herself because she didn't want to draw more attention to herself. Dianna found her confidence through sports, specifically track. "Track showed me that my disability doesn't define me". Dianna was connected with DRS Counselor Mary Ann Rice as she was graduating from high school. Dianna decided that combining her love for sports and interest for healthcare was the perfect match, but she knew she would need assistance with accommodations. Mary Ann proved to be a great asset for this. "She (Mary Ann) did a great job of identifying and communicating with myself, my professors and student services the appropriate accommodations that would best match my needs with my academic and professional career. She was so punctual and always followed through". Dianna now provides sports, orthopedic and neurological physical therapy.

Sid Jackson

For over two decades Sid Jackson had a successful career in food service management. He loved every aspect of his job, especially selecting the right employees for his team. And, as Sid will tell you, that team always included employees with disabilities. A few years ago Sid had complications from diabetes and was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure, which prevented him from keeping his job. After much frustration seeking a new job, Sid contacted a DRS counselor who worked with him to identify jobs that were a good match with his capabilities. He found work with a community rehabilitation agency in Clinton, providing training and supervision to other people with disabilities learning job skills. "It's the best job I have ever had. DRS helped me get there."

Donna Adams

In 2009, Donna Adams found that she was unable to continue working as a certified nursing assistant due to the effects of osteoarthritis. Uncertain what other employment options were available, she worked with a DRS counselor who helped her identify the goal of starting a business as a wedding planner. DRS assisted Donna in completing courses that enabled her to pursue her goal. She also worked with a SCORE volunteer to develop a detailed business plan and networked with experienced wedding planners. Today Donna is the owner of Special Moments Wedding & Party Planning in Pontiac, and specializes in creating themed weddings. Donna is thankful for the support, guidance and encouragement that she has received from DRS and her family. Donna states, "You must have courage to be willing to live your dream; age does not matter. Keep trying and become good at self-advocacy. I recommend the services that DRS offers to anyone!"

Rodrigo Contreas

Rodrigo Contreas has balanced completing high school with working full time and has been extremely successful at both. While attending the Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD), Rodrigo has demonstrated how having a positive attitude and working hard can lead to a bright future. Rodrigo works full time at a retirement home in Jacksonville, and continues to participate in activities at ISD, including independent living training in areas such as money management and cooking. Despite challenges communicating with hearing people, Rodrigo enjoys working with the residents of the retirement home. "I have a responsibility to do my job because they depend on me, and I like interacting with them every day." Rodrigo defines success as living on his own, managing his life and his bank account, and being a full time self supporting adult.

DHS/DRS Vocational Rehabilitation Program
FY 2012 Final Data Summary

Service Data 

Category Referrals Applications New Plans Total Served Outcomes
BFS Region 1 7,243 4,406 3,933 12,496 1,021
BFS Region 2 4,965 3,287 3,041 10,242 1,079
BFS Region 3 3,875 2,795 2,288 7,462 1,033
BFS Region 4 2,545 1,737 1,473 4,572 695
BFS Region 5 2,708 1,996 1,715 5,199 784
BBS Total 1,527 1,125 979 3,045 341
Statewide 22,863 15,346 13,429 43,016 4,953

Customers By Service Category 

Category STEP Non-STEP Transition SEP College
Region 1 3,741 909 4,650 762 543
Region 2 4,285 597 4,882 496 285
Region 3 2,211 356 2,567 332 461
Region 4 1,451 373 1,824 73 180
Region 5 1,572 368 1,940 118 339
BBS 96 92 188 28 91
Statewide Total 13,356 2,695 16,051 1,809 1,899

Customers by Age Group

Age Group Served Outcomes
< 20 years 20,541 1,930
21-30 years 6,249 862
31-40 years 4,617 635
41-50 years 5,918 808
51-60 years 4,684 600
61 or more years 975 118
VR Total 42,984 4,953

Customers By Disability Category

Category Served Outcomes
Blind-Visual Impairment 3,141 354
Deaf-Hard of Hearing 2,652 403
Physical Disability 4,346 441
Mental Illness 5,826 713
Intellectual Disability 5,453 525
Learning Disability 10,975 1,382
Brain Injury 651 80
Other Condition 9,940 1,055
VR Program Total 42,984 4,953

Earnings Data

Average Earnings Weekly Monthly Annual
Case Opening $64.27 $278.48 $3,341.78
Case Closure $308.86 $1,338.29 $16,059.48
Average Increase $244.59 $1,059.81 $12,717.70
Total Increase $1,212,188 $5,252,411 $63,028,929

Customers by Race/Ethnic Group

Race/Ethnic Group Served Outcomes
White 26,067 3,556
African American 11,756 949
Hispanic/Latino 3,949 330
Asian 583 70
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 67 10
American Indian 99 6
Multi Racial 463 32
VR Program Total 42,984 4,953

Comparison of Data by Race/Ethnic Group, FY 2005 to FY 2012

Competitive Employment Outcomes

Race/Ethnic Group FY2005 FY2012 Percent Difference
White 4,042 3,556 -12.0
African American 1,356 949 -30.0
Hispanic/Latino 373 330 -11.5
Asian 75 70 -6.7
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 6 10 66.7
American Indian 12 6 -50.0
Multi Racial 11 32 190.9
VR Program Total 5,875 4,953 -15.7

Average Monthly Earnings

Race/Ethnic Group FY2005 FY2012 Percent Difference
White $1,217 $1,327 9.0
African American $1,190 $1,239 4.1
Hispanic/Latino $1,274 $1,224 -3.9
Asian $1,114 $1,377 23.6
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander $1,158 $1,707 47.4
American Indian $1,189 $1,247 4.9
Multi Racial $1,409 $1,048 -25.6
VR Program Total $1,213 $1,303 7.4

Rehabilitation Rate 

Race/Ethnic Group FY2005 FY2012 Percent Difference
White 63.0 61.9 -1.7
African American 45.8 41.1 -10.2
Hispanic/Latino 52.3 48.8 -6.7
Asian/Pacific Islander 54.3 52.5 -3.4
American Indian 57.1 43.8 -23.4
Multi Racial 64.0 47.3 -26.1
VR Program Total 57.5 55.1 -4.2

 Vocational Rehabilitation Program

Race/Ethnic Group FY2005 FY2012 Percent Difference
White 30,730 26,067 -15.2
African American 14,584 11,756 -19.4
Hispanic/Latino 3,832 3,949 3.1
Asian 611 583 -4.6
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 65 67 3.1
American Indian 142 99 -30.3
Multi Racial 190 463 143.7
VR Program Total 50,154 42,984 -14.3

 Home Services Program 

Race/Ethnic Group FY2005 FY2012 Percent Difference
White 18,475 17,701 -4.2
African American 14,455 17,438 20.6
Hispanic/Latino 2,067 2,616 26.6
Asian 425 524 23.3
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 25 44 76.0
American Indian 134 116 -13.4
Multi Racial 63 215 241.3
VR Program Total 35,644 38,654 8.4

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.

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