• Castro looks to expand care for individuals with developmental disabilities

    Sen. Cristina CastroSPRINGFIELD – A pilot program meant to provide supervision and care to adults and children with developmental disabilities will be expanded and made permanent under a measure sponsored by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin).

    “Taking care of an individual with developmental disabilities can be a real challenge and many families across the state struggle to do so,” Castro said. “The pilot program proved to be successful in providing services to those in Illinois who really needed it, which is why it should be made permanent and expanded to provide even more assistance.”

  • Van Pelt and DHS expanding services for persons with disabilities

    vanpelt 021020SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D- Chicago) is leading an initiative with the Department of Human Services that will expand eligibility for special education facilities.

    The proposed legislation would allow people with an orthopedic or other physical disability to attend the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt. 

    “As we become more knowledgeable about various kinds of disabilities, it is important to revise our policies so that they are as inclusive as need be,” Van Pelt said. “Our understanding has grown, so our legislation must be changed to address that.”

    In addition to updating some terminology, the bill would also require school districts to inform eligible families about the services available to those who have been diagnosed with a physical disability or impairment, and increase the qualified age of a “student” from age 21 to age 22.

    The legislation is Senate Bill 2996, and is pending further action from the Illinois Senate.

  • Tom Cullerton launches formal investigation into Warehousegate

    dhs barneysSPRINGFIELD- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has launched a formal investigation into the corrupt Springfield warehouse the Department of Human Services and Central Management Services leased to store state file.

    Cullerton passed House Joint Resolution 63 today, which will require the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the irresponsible contract negotiated by DHS to rent the former Barney’s furniture store as a warehouse for $2.4 million for five years that could have been bought for $750,000.

  • Morrison meets with new acting director of DCFS

    morrison 062717SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) met with new Acting Director of the Department of Children and Family Services Beverly Walker this afternoon during a hearing of the Senate Human Services Committee.

    “Today’s hearing gave members of the Senate the opportunity to learn about Director Walker’s background and her ideas for bringing lasting change to DCFS,” Morrison said. “As seen by today’s high level of interest from Senators on both sides of the aisle, the Senate is committed to working with Acting Director Walker to address the monumental challenges facing this troubled agency.”

  • Tom Cullerton: Warehousegate turns into worst episode of Prison Break ever

    tcullerton 022817 178SPRINGFIELD -- Questions have been raised about why taxpayers are paying $2.4 million for a state lease so state paperwork can be stored at a vacant furniture store in Springfield. The paperwork had been stored at a closed state prison at little to no cost to taxpayers. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration had said the prison building was in disrepair and the paperwork needed to be moved.

    But the state’s prison director told members of an Illinois Senate committee this week that he had no knowledge of this. He said he would try to get some answers.

  • Manar: If state can find emergency cookie dough money, why not emergency roof money?

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  • Aquino shocked by disorganization in state human services

    aquino 040417SPRINGFIELD — With no information available on how proposed program cuts will affect the state’s black and Latino communities, State Sen. Omar Aquino expressed disappointment with an incomplete budget plan for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Department of Human Services.

    In an Illinois Senate committee hearing, State Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) asked Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Department of Human Services (DHS) secretary if his office had any demographic data on the effects of program cuts on minority communities. Director James Dimas responded that DHS only collects data when it is required by the federal government, as in the case of food subsidy programs like TANF and SNAP.

    “In order to improve, you need to measure,” Aquino said. “Governor Rauner promised smart government and business-style solutions, yet he doesn’t even attempt to gather important information that would help him govern.”

    Aquino then asked Dimas his office’s position on a piece of legislation in the Illinois House of Representatives that would require DHS to the collect demographic data of program recipients. He responded that DHS is neutral on the legislation.

    “There’s a reason the federal government tracks this information,” Aquino said. “In Illinois, we need to be asking the same questions: How does this affect our minority communities? When we cut a program, who do we hurt?”

    The legislation, House Bill 3131, is currently under consideration in the Illinois House.

  • McGuire: Rauner lacks plan to stabilize developmentally disabled group homes

    mcguire 040417SPRINGFIELD — Without a plan to address problems of inadequate pay and staff shortages, the workers who care for those with developmental disabilities are struggling just to keep the state’s most vulnerable people safe, said State Sen. Pat McGuire.

    In a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, McGuire told Department of Human Services Secretary James Dimas that non-profit providers like Cornerstone, Trinity and Easter Seals are losing staff from group homes to local warehouses and distribution centers.

    Low reimbursement from the state limits the starting wages of group home workers to $9.35 per hour, while some logistics companies are paying starting employees as much as $15.

    “As a result,” McGuire said, “group homes are short-staffed, the remaining staff members are working up to 70 hours a week, and the emphasis now is solely on safety, on keeping residents alive, rather than on finding job opportunities and other community activities for group home residents.”

    Dimas revealed that the governor’s only plan to raise these workers’ wages relies on the Senate’s Grand Bargain bipartisan compromise, which the governor to date opposes. The department has nothing in its own budget to address the situation, nor could Dimas identify a specific hourly wage for group home workers the administration deems to be fair.

    “Secretary Dimas strikes me as an honorable man,” McGuire said. “But his boss, Gov. Rauner, looks to be ignoring the risks created by underfunding group home disability support workers – unconscionable, unnecessary and unacceptable risks.”

  • The cost of chaos: Rauner administration inked $2.4M lease for a $750K warehouse

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  • Morrison questions DHS leaders on abuse, neglect allegations in group homes

    morrison 101716SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield), vice-chairwoman of the Senate Human Services Committee, questioned leaders with the Department of Human Services (DHS) today over the recent Chicago Tribune investigative report highlighting improperly handled cases of abuse and neglect at group homes across the state.

    The series, titled ‘Suffering in Secret,’ found allegations of abuse cover-ups and a complete lack of transparency that left the public and family members of abused group home residents in the dark.

  • Biss: Abuse, neglect of developmentally disabled is a crisis, not a political opportunity

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  • Stadelman demands commitment to keep Rosecrance open

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    SPRINGFIELD – A day after the governor’s office released funding to allow the Rosecrance Triage Center to remain open through the end of June, State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) voted in support of an  appropriation to release the money they are owed for the entire fiscal year.  

    “While the Department of Human Services made the right decision yesterday to finally release funding to allow the center to stay open another four months, we need to look at the bigger picture,” Stadelman said.

    The funding was released yesterday after Stadelman stressed the importance of the center to department officials during a budget hearing.

  • Biss: DHS hiring as service providers languish

    biss dhsSen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) today questioned why a state agency is expanding its payroll while failing to pay hundreds of struggling non-profit agencies that are contracted to provide important services on the state’s behalf.

    Officials from the Illinois Department of Human Services revealed during an appropriations hearing that the agency hired about 800 new employees between July and December 2015.

    Meanwhile, DHS has not been paying the agencies it contracted with throughout Illinois to provide vital human services for impoverished and underserved people on behalf of the state.