Individuals with special needs living in Illinois qualify for a number of educational services and assistance until they turn age 22. As families of individuals with special needs know, these needs do not stop at age 22, but many may feel at a loss regarding which post-secondary programs to try. Unlike for the “free appropriate public education” that the school system must provide, people must actively seek out and apply for these “post-22” programs.
They first option for post-22 day activities is “competitive employment” where the individual applies for and works in a job without any assistance. This is oftentimes unrealistic for individuals with significant special needs. The next option would be supported employment programs which are generally paid for by Medicaid. The State of Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services has programs which provide a job coach to help work with the individual with disabilities and their employer to make accommodations and do job training. However, they phase out after a number of months (they have an 18 month limit to their job coach services that is often difficult if not impossible to increase). The State of Illinois Division of Developmental Disabilities, however, has its own job coaches which have a permanent relationship with the individuals with special needs they serve; in many cases the job coach is with the individual every moment they are working. The state of Illinois also has day programs which provide “developmental training” with the goal of providing individuals with disabilities the skills to work in the community.
While many families prefer that their child with special needs live with them for their entire life this may not be ideal for either the parents or the child with special needs. Therefore, families must examine the options in Illinois for residential services. The main options that people look at in Illinois today are ICFDDs (campuses where many individuals with developmental disabilities live), CILAs (Community Integrated Living Arrangements, commonly referred to as “group homes”), and independent living models such as microboards, cooperatives, or engaging agencies to provide “a la carte” services for the individual who may be living in their own apartment but needs some personal assistant supports. All three models have many variations. There are ICFDDs that are working farms as well as more traditional campuses and dorm style residential facilities in the city and suburbs. There are CILAs that are Condos with only two or three people living in them along with one full-time staff, and there are CILAs that are large homes with eight people living in them and two full-time staff at all times. There are also other CILA models available depending on the needs of the individual and their family. Of course, the independent living models come in even more variety depending on the needs of the individual with special needs.
State and non-profit organizations provide guidance and assistance in obtaining assistive technology for people with special needs. For example, the Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP), a non-profit agency, helps adults access and use assistive technology.
Rubin Law is the only law firm in Illinois exclusively limited to providing compassionate special needs legal and future planning to guide our fellow Illinois families of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental illness down the road to peace of mind. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-TO-RUBIN.