Martinez: New panel will study Latinos’ access to disability services

martinezstudylatino053014State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th), concerned by the disproportionately small number of Latinos on the state government’s list of individuals eligible for developmental disabilities services, has secured approval of a task force to study the status of Latinos with disabilities in Illinois. Both the House and Senate have voted to establish the group, which will develop its recommendations over the next year and a half.

“Although Latinos make up 16 percent of the population, they account for only 6.4 percent of those on the Prioritization of Urgent Need for Services list,” Martinez said. “This suggests an information and access problem, and I believe we should study this disparity and determine how to better identify and serve everyone in need of assistance.”

The Prioritization of Urgent Need for Services (PUNS) list is maintained to help the Illinois Department of Human Services determine which individuals receive assistance first as funding becomes available. There are currently more than 22,000 people on the PUNS list. Some have never received services, and others are seeking additional or different types of services.

The task force will compile data on the number of Latinos living with disabilities in Illinois, their needs and their access to and participation in state programs. It will solicit community feedback, examine barriers to access and recommend best practices for reaching Latinos with disabilities who are not receiving screening or services. The panel’s report is due January 1, 2016.

Senator Iris Y. Martinez

Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez

Assistant Majority Leader
20th District

Years served:
2003 - Present
Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Education; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive; Government Accountability/Pensions (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation; Subcommittee on Gov. Operations; Pension Investments Special Com. On (Co-Chairperson); Revenue (Vice-Chairperson).

Biography: Born Feb. 25, 1956, in Chicago; earned her bachelor's degree in public policy and administration from Northeastern Illinois University in 2009; elected president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She is also the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Co-Chair; has one daughter.

Associated Representatives:
Jaime M. Andrade, Jr.
Will Guzzardi