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Ligas Family Advocate Program

The Ligas Family Advocate Program (LFAP) provides broad outreach to adults and families throughout Illinois who are selected from the PUNS or notified in advance of a future PUNS selection. We connect you to the information you need to make smart, informed decisions for home and community-based funding and services, helping adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live their fullest lives.

The Ligas Family Advocate Program is funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services.

How We Help

With a wealth of experience and understanding, we support you in navigating the adult developmental disabilities system, uncovering outside-the-box solutions and help you to avoid confusion at every step of the process.

No matter what stage you are in, our team will provide assistance plans for maximum success.

Prepare for the pre-admission screening process with your Independent Service Coordination (ISC) agency.

Meet other families and build a broader support network through informative workshops and events.

LFAs will support you in connecting to your Independent Service Coordination Agency, which is a key step in accessing adult disability services.

Ligas Class Member Criteria

You must be an adult (18 and above) in Illinois, have an intellectual disability or other developmental disability, qualify for Medicaid Waiver services and:

  • Reside in a private ICFs-DD with nine or more residents or in a family home
  • The State must have a current record of your request for community based services or community based living

CANTS & the New Rules- A Q & A Session with ACES$

Homebased Community Updates: Important CANTs Changes

Effective August 1, 2024, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will update its submission procedure for submitting Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) forms. From that date forward, ACES$ can no longer submit the Authorization for Background Child Check, CANTS forms on behalf of Personal Support Workers (PSWs). If you need assistance, the Illinois DCFS has provided resources for you.

Join us and Tasha Whiteside from ACES$ for a Q&A session on this topic!

LFAP Special Topic Series: Welcome to Home-Based Supports

Ligas Family Advocate Program: Home-Based Basics, Process, & Common Concerns

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Home Based Service Program

DDD Updates for Families new to Home-Based Supports with Derek Hedges, DDD Waiver Manager

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Presentation Intro Slides
Presentation with Derek Hedges

ACES$ Services: Navigating Payroll and EVV with Tasha Whiteside, Illinois Program Director, ACES$

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Presentation Intro Slides
Presentation Regarding EVV

2024 Know Your Options Monthly Webinar (English)

Recently received an Early Notification letter or a PUNS selection letter? Join us to learn about your options under the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver for Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Illinois. We will discuss service and support options, explore the role of your ISC, review the key steps you need to take to prepare for supports, and talk through common concerns and barriers. Registration is required. Click here for event flyer.

Monthly – 1st Thursday

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Zoom: Online Webinar

2024 Conoce Tus Opciones! (Espanol)

¿Recibió recientemente una carta de notificación temprana o una carta de selección de PUNS? Únase a nosotros para aprender sobre sus opciones bajo la Exención basada en el hogar y la comunidad de Medicaid para adultos con Discapacidades del desarrollo en Illinois. Discutiremos las opciones de servicio y soporte, exploraremos el rol de su ISC, revise los pasos clave que debe seguir para prepararse para los apoyos y analicepreocupaciones y barreras comunes.

Monthly – 2nd Miercoles

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Zoom: Online Webinar

Key Resources

Family advocates work to empower individuals and their families with the information they need to make informed choices. We understand the system can be confusing, which is why we provide the necessary tools and connections to ensure you and your family get the support you deserve.

DHS 2021 Consumer Handbook on Home-based Services

Explore Handbook

Selecting a Community Day Service Program

View Provider List

Statewide List of CILA Providers

Browse Providers

CQL Living Options

View Video

Learn What a Ligas Family Can Do For You

View Fact Sheet

Planning for DD Services

View Planning Sheet

Selecting a Self Direction Assistant

View SDA List

Flowchart From PUNS Enrollment to DD Waiver Services

Download Flowchart

Ruth Aguilar, Senior Ligas Family Advocate

Our History

The Ligas Family Advocate program began as a pilot project in 2014 funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services in response to a need for consistent statewide information about waiver options for PUNS selectees after implementation of the Ligas Consent Decree in 2011. “Ligas” is the last name of the lead plaintiff, Stanley, a man living with Down syndrome, who sued the State to access a community-based, non-institutional living option. We offer information and support to those beginning the process to become eligible for the Medicaid waiver for adults with DD in Illinois so they may make informed choices.

Our Team

We know how to help because we’ve been in your shoes. We are family members of individuals with developmental disabilities, and we understand the need for assistance in making informed choices about living and service options.

Together, we can direct you to the resources you need.

Ruth Aguilar, QIDP

Ruth Aguilar has over fifteen years of combined experience advocating for people with disabilities. She holds a B.S Psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Professional Graduate Studies in Non-Profit from Harvard University. Ruth’s professional experience stems from working previously in an ISC Agency and then as a Self-Directed Assistant serving the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Moreover, with her personal expertise as a mother of a teen girl with Rett Syndrome and Seizure Disorder, Ruth brings a wealth of knowledge to the families by assisting them in how to obtain services and understanding their options by being assertive, yet professional. Ruth is inspired by her husband and her daughter to be a servant leader who helps those around her without hesitation.

Shakari Asbury

Shakari collaborates with organizations that focus on underserved communities and individuals with I/DD, among other duties. She keeps the team focused and in touch with diverse audiences, ensuring our materials are understandable.

Annie Bruno, MSW, LCSW

Annie Bruno is the Ligas Family Advocate for Central & Southern Illinois. She holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois in Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, as well as a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional. Annie has over fifteen years of experience working with individuals with disabilities and their families. She has spent time as a Service Facilitator in the Home Based program and as an Independent Service Coordinator at an ISC agency. Annie has a background in consulting and is passionate about assisting families with navigating complex service systems and connecting to available resources. 

Shirley A. Perez

Shirley A. Perez is the Program Director of the Ligas Family Advocate Program. Ms. Perez has thirty-five plus years of advocating and working with individuals and their families with disabilities. She is a business graduate of Metropolitan Business College and Kaplan University. She operated her own business, worked at an ISC Agency where she advocated for and assisted families in locating services by navigating the State system. In conjunction with the City of Chicago, Federal Home Loan Bank and The Illinois Housing Development Authority, she implemented a home-buying program for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities. She has worked as a Special Project Advocate with the Illinois Life Span Project; met with families/guardians to explain the transition process and listen to their concerns as their family members’ transition into the community from State Operated Developmental Centers.

She currently serves on various Department of Human Services Committees and is an active volunteer in both her community and church. She is the proud mother of an adult daughter (Tamekia), who lives in the community. Tamekia is diagnosed with multiple disabilities, intellectually and developmentally delayed. She is non-verbal, diagnosed with Autism and suffers from a seizure disorder. Ms. Perez’s passion for advocacy is fueled by her desire to help her daughter and others with disabilities reach their full potential. Her philosophy is, “everyone can succeed with the right support!” She can be contacted at

See Additional Arc of Illinois Fact Sheets

Contact Us

Need help? The Ligas team is here for you.

  • Send a message.


“Thank you, LFA so very much for taking time to share a wealth of information with me. I am just so happy that this process looks so very positive.

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to know that there are individuals such as yourself that are very tenacious and have seen this project come to fruition. I am excited and am so looking forward to this opportunity opening up for my son.”