June 15, 2022

Dear Stakeholders,

Ensuring safety and quality care for the individuals we serve is a guiding priority for the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). In the spirit of transparency and clarity, we want to share with you the actions that our administration has taken at our State Operated Developmental Centers (SODCs) and in particular at the Choate Developmental Center, where serious allegations about resident abuse and neglect have arisen in the last year.

Every allegation of abuse or neglect must be taken seriously. Regarding those made at Choate, required investigations have occurred and are continuing through the IDHS Office of Inspector General, the Illinois State Police, and the Illinois Department of Public Health, as appropriate.

In addition, we asked Equip for Equality, the independent and federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System for people with disabilities in Illinois, to conduct independent monitoring and provide feedback regarding safety and quality of services at Choate.

As a result of feedback from our state agency partners and Equip for Equality, IDHS DDD has completed or initiated several actions to improve safety and quality care at Choate. They include:

  • Establishing an environmental plan to update the living areas and homes.
  • Adding approximately 10 surveillance cameras to public areas (in process).
  • Increasing security staff by four positions (in process).
  • Increasing management presence in living areas and professional staff presence after hours.
  • Supplementing monitoring rounds with SODC regional personnel.
  • Temporarily assigning a Licensed Clinical Psychologist to provide staff support.
  • Assigning a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to aid with new training, including on incident investigations and reporting.
  • Establishing a contract with the Illinois Crisis Prevention Network (ICPN) to provide:
    • Independent, on-site clinical staff for observations and support for residents and staff.
    • Recommendations on behavior plans, support plans, and Human Rights Committee processes.
    • Staff training on trauma-informed care.
    • 1-on-1 clinical supports to individual residents.

IDHS DDD has implemented several policy changes to increase the quality of care for residents at all the SODCs, while also helping those that desire to transition out of an SODC, including:

  • Providing updated policies and training on individual rights, supervision, and support plans and interventions.
  • Creating a statewide staff position in the SODCs responsible for the oversight and management of all transitions out of the SODC system.
  • Providing dedicated Independent Service Coordination (ISC) agency staff at each SODC to allow for conflict-free support for community-based transitions.
  • Expanding the Support Services Team (SST) contracts to provide bridge clinical support for individuals transitioning out of SODCS and into community-based care.

As the above improvements continue, we will assess their impact in coordination with our state agency partners and Equip for Equality, which will continue its independent monitoring of the quality of care and safety of residents. Our SODCs serve many Illinois residents with significant needs, and we are fortunate to have many dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic in an already demanding job.

It is our chief priority to ensure that our residents live, and our staff work, in a setting that has the highest quality policies, practices, and environment that we can deliver. We look forward to continuing our work to meet this commitment.

Thank you,

Grace Hou

Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

Allison Stark

Director, IDHS Division of Developmental Disabilities

Tiffany Bailey,

Deputy Director, SODC Operations



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