For advocates and families, don’t forget to register for our first Supported Employment Action Team training with DRS/DDD around accessing employment services, June 25 in Alsip, south of Chicago.  Register here.  Please note all are welcome to attend, but we are not offering CEUs at this training.  Check out the five trainings we are doing around the state!

ISC update
As you know, the new contracts for areas in the state covered by independent service coordination agencies (case managers) will be going into affect July 1, with one region around the Quad cities that was transferred May 1.  The state has agreed to re-issue a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for the Metro East area currently covered by DDSME and previously awarded to Prairieland for the new contract.  We would expect services to continue for people receiving case management services currently from DDSME uninterrupted until the NOFO has been released and closed and re-awarded.  More information to follow.  If you have any questions or concerns on this, please call our Life Span program 1800-588-7002.  If you want to learn more about what the ISCs do, Life Span held a webinar in May on this topic.  You can listen to it here.

State Legislation Recap
Thanks to all those who advocated incredibly hard for legislation that supports making Illinois a better place for people with disabilities to be fully included in community life.  The Governor signed the budget bills into law this week, and the They Deserve More Campaign put out some good language around some of the funding.

Budget Bill
BIMP (budget implementation bill)
Capitol bill – if you are interested in a specific organization, you can open the document and push “control F” and search for a specific organizational name.  Please note that due to the negotiation process there are apparently some legislators who got set aside funds but are not yet broken out by organization to be funded so if you don’t see funding you have advocated for, I would connect with your legislator’s staff to double check what was funded.

Here is our press release on the budget passage.

A couple of highlights:
Wage/Rates – 3.5% increase with language that offers flexibility to fund wages among other things.  The BIMP language says: “Within 30 days after the effective date of this Amendatory Act of the 101st General Assembly, subject to federal approval, the Department shall increase rates and reimbursements in effect on June 30, 2019 for community-based providers for persons with Developmental Disabilities by 3.5%. The Department shall adopt rules, including emergency rules under subsection (ii) of Section 5-45 of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act, to implement the provisions of this Section, including wage increases for direct care staff. (Source: P.A. 100-23, eff. 7-6-17; 100-587, eff. 6-4-18.)”  This means that emergency rules will be put into place through the Division to implement the rate increase, which include implementing wage increases.  A similar provision was included for facilities licensed by the Department of Public Health under the ID/DD Community Care Act as ID/DD Facilities and under the MC/DD Act as MC/DD Facilities.

See here the They Deserve More press lease and new fact sheet to compare wages still for direct support professionals.  There was a great feature yesterday in Capitol Fax as well, highlighting that while we appreciate the funding, it does not address the staffing crisis that results in people not being able to do what they want to do in their lives.  The coalition is advocating for a quick implementation.

Early Intervention (EI) also saw a rate increase after many years without one.  EI was increased 12.4% from $96.9 M to $108.9 M.  Although the initial ask was 25% increase, the advocates were pleased considering the competition for dollars.  The Governor had proposed a 7% increase in February in his budget and the legislature adding on the additional 5.4%.   The additional funds will go towards a rate increase.  It is not yet clear how the rate increase will be implemented.  

Of the DD grant line items, The Autism Program got a $500,000 increase in support and all of the other grant lines were flat funded.

Policy is also laid out through BIMP including expanding ABA therapy for children with autism with a state plan amendment and expanding early intervention to kids exposed to lead.

We had a good year seeing the passage of bills including a customized employment pilot project, increased PUNs waiting list communication and transparency, the creation of a task force on people with disabilities and criminal justice, sex education/sex safety training for people living in CILAs, ICFDDs and SODCs, Medicaid improvements and more.  

We also saw taxes on gas, cigarettes, gambling, cannabis.  The Fair Tax is going to the voters in 2020.

We also have some outstanding issues that were not addressed this session including non public health certified homes on SODC campuses, the subminimum wage for people with I/DD, the personal needs allowance increase, more funding to address the staffing crisis, the disability integration act, among other things.  We will look to next session to keep working on these issues.

What Can You Do?
1) find out how your legislators voted on these and other key bills.  Here is the link to the budget vote in the House and the Senate
2) Thank your legislators who voted with people with disabilities by sending them letters, calling, emailing or posting thanks on social media
3) they need to know we are there not just to demand change but to acknowledge their hard work in the process