ILR School

Promising Practices: Advanced Referral System - Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services, BPA&O Project Human Services Center

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Changes in disability policy at the state and federal level have presented many new opportunities for meaningful systems change and services delivery for people with disabilities. Since 2000, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Rehabilitation Services Administration have issued many grants to state agencies, community-based service providers and advocates to address barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Many of these grants have competitive employment as the goal, yet very few of these grants have built in support for benefits planning and assistance – a function that many believe is critical to achieving competitive employment. In this Promising Practices, the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services BPA&O Project (DRS BPA&O Project) and the Human Services Center (HSC), a community-based mental health center and the recipient of a DOL Customized Employment Grant, created a model partnership to ensure that the 600 consumers with severe mental illness served by HSC under their grant would gain access to benefits planning services. They call their model partnership an “Advanced Referral System.”

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