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.

Lightford to Rauner: Lead, empathize, govern justly

lightford-vetosSPRINGFIELD: From cancer screenings and AIDS/HIV education to DCFS scholarship programs and foster care funding –all were voted to be saved in the Senate today as the chamber decided to override Governor Rauner’s veto of budgets for the Dept. of Health and the Dept. of Children and Family Services. State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, Assistant Majority Leader, released the following statement after her vote.

“Together, these departments promote and safeguard the health and well-being of everyone in Illinois. We cannot allow the governor to hold hostage the health and safety of abused and neglected children and other vulnerable populations in need of aid or treatment.

Until the budget impasse is solved, DCFS service providers have received a 10 percent budget cut and staff are being let go and doors are closing for those providing cancer detection screenings. This is an unacceptable reality, and this is why I voted to protect these services.

I call on the governor to lead and take these cuts seriously and pass an empathetic budget that takes everyone into account because so many of us are experiencing the dire ramifications of this budget crisis. The people of this state are more than numbers on a page or a spreadsheet. We have beating hearts that need protecting. I intend to always uphold this truth. I hope the governor follows suit.”

We cannot allow political debate to become a punishment

lightford-shutdownSPRINGFIELD – In support of the temporary budget proposed and passed by the Illinois Senate yesterday, Assistant Majority Leader Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) released the following statement.

“The governor has vetoed all but one budget measure sent to his desk, but has made no real attempt at compromise. This reality has forced the Senate’s hand. We proposed a temporary solution to ensure our most vulnerable are taken care of during this time of uncertainty.

“Yesterday, I voted in support of a one-month stop-gap budget to allow the most critical of programs to continue to be funded - programs supporting people with developmental disabilities, wards of the state, abused and neglected children, veterans, and senior citizens who need in-home assistance.

“These programs and services are critical for the well-being of so many hard-working citizens. The leadership of Illinois cannot allow political debate to inflict harm on the people.

“We need to continue paying our prison guards, police officers and the National Guard to keep our communities safe. We cannot allow services like The Community Care program, put in place to save taxpayers’ money, to disintegrate and force seniors to be shipped off to nursing homes. We cannot afford to lose juvenile justice specialists and education programs for our troubled youth.

“Yes, the governor signing an education budget was a step forward, but, in essence, he has still not done the job he promised. He campaigned on a promise to improve the educational outlook for children in this state, and I share this goal with my whole heart. But a child cannot be expected to thrive in the classroom, if at home, their parents can’t put food on the table or pay for day-care. There simply cannot continue to be a disconnect between talk and action. Lives are at stake.

“Both parties can come together in critical moments on critical issues. We have done it before and we have no choice but to do it again. Let’s take immediate action on a budget that sincerely recognizes the immutable needs of the people.”

Lightford protects and enhances Dept. of Juvenile Justice

Lightford protects and enhances Dept. of Juvenile JusticeSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to fight back against deep cuts to critical state programs and services, Assistant Majority Leader Senator Kimberly A. Lightford voted to fund the Dept. of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) at a level of $150 million – $16 million more than last year. Senator Lightford released this statement about her vote.

“A higher funding level for the Department of Juvenile Justice will allow the department to better reach and rehabilitate the youth of our state. Increasing the number of staff working with our troubled youth will improve safety for the children and staff, while improving educational opportunities and the overall chances of rehabilitative success for each child.

“Stronger mental-health and special-education services within the department will ensure that every young person is provided the help they need. We also need reform efforts concerning our commitments to children beyond their release dates. More formalized hearings will go a long way in preventing future incarceration and protecting the futures of all children and adolescents in Illinois.”

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