HOW TO ACCESS THE DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES WAIVER SERVICE SYSTEM
On November 1, 2004, the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities initiated a database to gather information from persons with developmental disabilities and their families about the supports that they are receiving or that they may need within the next five years. The Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services or PUNS was developed as a way for the Division of Developmental Disabilities to know what supports people with developmental disabilities need and to categorize the urgency of those needs.
Access Services of Northern Illinois, as the designated Individual Service Coordination (ISC) agency in the thirteen northwestern Illinois counties, is responsible for completing a PUNS for eligible individuals and their families upon their request and to update the information as needed or on an annual basis.
Completion of the PUNS does not guarantee that an individual will receive supports funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities nor does it determine their eligibility for such supports. As of February 1, 2008 enrollment on the PUNS is the only way that Developmental Disability Waiver services can be accessed.
Who is eligible to complete a PUNS?
Individuals in need of supports funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities within five years must have a diagnosis of a developmental disability or a reasonable belief that they have a developmental disability. Conditions that may be considered a developmental disability are; mental retardation (onset before age 18) or related conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, or Autism Spectrum Disorders.
To qualify as a related condition all four of the following requirements must be met:
- Closely related to mental retardation because it results in impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior similar to mentally retarded persons and requires treatment or services similar to those required for these persons;
- manifested before age 22;
- likely to continue indefinitely; and
- results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas: self-care, language, learning, mobility, self-direction, and/or capacity for independent living:
- Children and adults who have a reasonable belief that they have a developmental disability can complete a PUNS if they are:
- Seeking new, additional, or significantly different services funded through the Division of Developmental Disabilities;
- Enrolled with the ISC agency, currently not receiving supports and have a caregiver age 60 or older; or
- Projecting a need for supports within the next five years.
- Who is not eligible to complete a PUNS
A PUNS can not be completed if an individual:
- Does not have a developmental disability or reasonable belief to have a developmental disability;
- Is not expecting to seek services funded through the Division of Developmental Disabilities within the next five years, even though they might request services at some time after that;
- Already receiving services funded through the Division of Developmental Disabilities and are not seeking new, additional, or different services.
- Already receiving services funded through the Developmental Disabilities service system and are seeking a different provider already funded through the Developmental Disabilities service system with no change in the type of services or supports they receive. For example, an individual wishing to move from one CILA provider to another, or from one respite provider to another; or
- Remaining in the same program and whose Individual Service Plan is adjusted to meet their changing needs for particular services, but without a need to modify their funding resources.
How to complete a PUNS
Individuals who are eligible to complete a PUNS and want to do so should contact Access Services of Northern Illinois at 815-282-8824 and ask for the Service Coordinator of the Day. When talking with the Service Coordinator of the Day please inform them that you are interested in completing a PUNS and be ready to discuss the service needs you wish explored. They will ask you some questions to determine if the person has a developmental disability or reasonable belief to have such a diagnosis. They will also ask you for other information that is required to enter into the database, such as their Social Security Number, name, address, and birth date of primary caregiver. Please understand that this information is required in order to enter the information into the database and will be considered confidential.
If the individual or their family member wishes to complete a PUNS, they will be assigned a Service Coordinator to work with them. They will be contacted within two weeks to gather more information and to schedule a time to complete the PUNS. The initial PUNS must be completed face-to-face with our Service Coordinators. In addition to completing the PUNS, the Service Coordinator will also discuss the need to develop an Initial Support Plan to begin the process of seeking and securing needed supports and services. The Service Coordinator will work with the individual and/or family to secure generic services but please remember that service availability is limited due to limited funding.
Also remember that completing a PUNS does not guarantee that services will be approved or that the person is eligible for services funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities.
If individuals and/or their families are interested in seeking Waiver services funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities additional assessments may be required involving additional forms to be completed as well as additional meetings with the individual and/or family. It is not our desire to make the process burdensome to individuals and their families; however the additional information and meetings are a requirement to attempt to obtain funding from the Division of Developmental Disabilities.
As of February 1, 2008 the only way to access Division of Developmental Disabilities Waiver funded services will be through a process that selects individuals from the PUNS database, unless someone is in crisis and has issues of being abused, neglected, or is homeless, or the person currently resides in a state operated facility, or the person is “aging out” of a Child Care Institution or Children’s Group Home, or the person is part of the DCFS project. Otherwise, if selected, an individual will receive written notification from the Division of Developmental Disabilities stating that they can now apply for Waiver funded services. The individual will be directed to contact their ISC agency to begin the process of eligibility determination and if eligible the process of referrals to agencies chosen by individual or their guardian will begin. Once a provider agrees to provide services a funding request will need to completed by the chosen agency and submitted to the Division of Developmental Disabilities and then a plan will be established to transition the person to the service provider.
Persons in crisis will be able to work directly with our Service Coordinators to make request for immediate emergency funding but DDD is only setting aside a limited number of allocations per month for the entire state to access emergency services. Persons residing in state operated facilities and those young adults who are part of the DCFS project or who reside in a Child Care Institution or Children’s Group Home will also be able to directly access funding for alternative services working with service coordinators from this agency.
Throughout this new process – this agency will do what we can to support people as best possible while waiting to access the Division of Developmental Disabilities Waiver system.