cpz 2039


SPRINGFIELD – In collaboration with a 20th district constituent, a new initiative led by State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas to connect more children with intellectual or developmental disabilities to essential supports has just passed the Senate, making it one step closer to becoming law.   

“When caregivers find out about the resources available from the PUNS database, they are often frustrated before feeling relieved, as they could have sought access for the necessary supports to improve their child’s quality of life if this program had been better publicized,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “Our goal with this legislation is to prevent further miscommunications or frustration and simply connect caregivers to helpful resources as soon as possible.” 

The Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) database is a statewide database maintained by the Illinois Department of Human Services that records information about individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities potentially in need of services. The PUNS database is available to all children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have unmet services needs anticipated within the next five years. 

Those not in the PUNS database are not in the queue for state developmental disability services, meaning if a parent or caregiver does not know about this program and does not enroll their child, they will have a significantly longer wait time to access critical resources. 

To make sure children and caregivers are aware of the PUNS database and its importance with accessing resources, Senate Bill 2039 would require every public school in the State of Illinois to have at least one designated employee who is educated about the PUNS database, steps required to register students, including the documentation and information parents and guardians will need for the registration process, and the appropriate contact for referring families to Independent Service Coordination (ISC)  agency to enroll children and adolescents in PUNS. During a student's annual Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting, if a student has an intellectual and or developmental disability and it is unclear or determined that the student is not enrolled in the PUNS database, the family will be referred to the designated school employee who can assist with explaining the process to enroll and locating the ISC for assistance. 

“Children with disabilities should have access to the care they need to thrive — especially when there are existing resources in place to provide them this support,” said Pacione-Zayas. “This legislation will help connect children and caregivers to essential resources to improve their quality of life.” 

Senate Bill 2039 passed the Senate on Thursday, March 30. It now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.