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Lightford's new law makes needs of developmentally disabled a priority

lightford PUNS signedSPRINGFIELD – Students with developmental disabilities will soon find it easier to get the help they and their families need. Sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood), a new law requires the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to train public school case workers to register students with the PUNS (Prioritization or Urgency of Need for Services) database.

Experts argued that due to a lack of awareness, PUNS is under-utilized, and therefore, people with developmental disabilities across the state are not getting the services they need. The law will ensure students in Illinois public schools and parents have the information they need to register with PUNS if they so choose.

“A database that ensures that people with developmental disabilities are never overlooked and always given help is no help to anyone if it is not used,” said Sen. Lightford. “Through this new law, we can ensure that students in the greatest need receive the resources they require to succeed and lead healthy, productive lives.”

DHS and ISBE would also have to develop a new program to provide resources and training for case workers so they are as prepared as possible to provide these students and their families with the information and advice they need. The law also requires ISBE to inform parents and guardians concerning the PUNS waiting list through school districts.

Senate Bill 226 was signed into law this morning and goes into effect January 1, 2016.

Sen. Lightford

Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

Senate Majority Leader
4th District


Years served: 1998 - Present (Senate) 

Committee assignments: Assignments (Chairperson); Education; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive Appointments; Executive; Oversight Medicaid Mang. Care, Spec; Supplier Diversity, Special Com. On; Subcommittee on Gov. Operations (Sub-Chairperson); Subcommittee on Charter Schools (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: B.A. in Communications, Western Illinois University; M.A. in Public Administration, University of Illinois Springfield; former Village of Maywood trustee; former employee at Secretary of State, Department of Corrections and Central Management Services; longtime champion in the Senate for education, working families and women's issues; lives in Maywood with her family.

Associated Representatives:
La Shawn K. Ford
Emanuel Chris Welch