Within the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) sector, the last few years have witnessed a surge of transformative changes in Illinois. This month, our team had the pleasure of interviewing Greg Petersen, Chief Executive Officer of Keystone Alliance, to gain valuable insights into the recent changes and the future of I/DD services in the state.
He breaks it down for us during our Q&A. Read more below!
There have been a lot of changes as of recent with the State of Illinois with funding, rules, etc. Can you share some insight into those changes? Can you break it down for us?
In the last two years, we transitioned from more than two decades with no changes to profound changes in terms of funding and regulations. For many years, Illinois saw no change to rates and no changes how they were calculated, which hindered progress in many ways. In recent years, the Pritzker administration has worked diligently to resolve many of the budgetary and administrative issues in the state to move forward.
One of the most significant drivers of this transformation was the federal HCBS Settings Rule, which came into effect in March 2023. This rule emphasizes the importance of person-centered services, privacy and individual choice for people receiving state-funded services. While this change presented some administrative challenges, it also motivated organizations like Search to focus on delivering personalized and innovative experiences for the people they support.
As the State of Illinois has made these changes, what are the benefits and disadvantages of these changes for the individuals we support and for I/DD agencies?
These changes have brought several benefits to IDD services in Illinois. One of the most important achievements has been addressing the ongoing Direct Support Professional (DSP) staffing crisis. The improved funding across the state has allowed organizations to offer better wages to DSPs, enhance recruitment techniques and stabilize staffing numbers.
With the benefits, there have been quite a few challenges for organizations as well. Administratively, the delayed updates on rates and regulations has created uncertainty for organizations to be able to plan and utilize their resources effectively. Being in limbo is not easy for many organizations.
What do you see for the future of I/DD in the State of Illinois? What are ways that agencies like Search can prepare for the future?
Amidst the changing landscape in Illinois, agencies like Search have embraced the mindset shift for more innovative services focused on person-centered services. We will see more organizations show their own versions of innovative thinking across the state.
As the sector moves towards a more person-centered approach, organizations like Search are leading the way in innovation and advocacy. The key lies in strategic planning and staying up-to-date with advocacy initiatives to keep pace with regulations and funding dynamics.
It is important to remain patient and flexible while navigating the evolving landscape.
How can a reader become involved in advocacy initiatives for I/DD sector in Illinois?
For individuals and families interested in getting involved in advocacy initiatives for the IDD sector in Illinois, The Arc of Illinois is a prominent statewide organization that represents the voices of people with disabilities and their families.
You can also follow along with IARF, Illinois’ leading association of community-based providers serving children and adults with I/DD and serious mental illnesses.
Additionally, staying connected with organizations like Search and utilizing online resources from jjslist.com can also keep advocates informed and learn about opportunities to contribute positively to the I/DD sector.
Thank you, Greg! You can learn more about Keystone Alliance here.