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Navigating the Illinois Disability System

Navigating the Illinois Disability System

Understanding PUNS

About the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities

The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities will provide quality, outcome-based, person-centered services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. The system of services and supports in Illinois will enhance opportunities for individuals to make real choices and receive appropriate, accessible, prompt, efficient and life-spanning services that are strongly monitored to ensure individual progress, quality of life and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is PUNS and how is it used?

* PUNS (Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services) is a statewide database that records information about individuals with developmental disabilities who are potentially in need of services

* The State uses the data to select individuals for services as funding becomes available, to develop proposals and materials for budgeting, and to plan for future needs

Why enroll in PUNS?

* To assist with identifying service needs and, if necessary, to enroll on a waiting list

Who can enroll in PUNS?

* Children, teens, and adults with developmental disabilities who need services or supports

What can families expect during the PUNS enrollment process?

* The individual with the developmental disability (along with guardian/caregiver/family) meets face-to-face with an Independent Service Coordination Agent (ISC)

* The ISC Agent will work with the individual and their family to identify the need for services, explain services and identify the urgency of need

Please Note: Enrolling in PUNS does not confirm that you are eligible for services nor guarantee that services will be provided. It does ensure that the IDHS’ Division of Developmental Disabilities knows about an individual’s need for services.

Contact the Illinois Department of Human Services’ (IDHS) 24 hour automated helpline: 1-800-843-6154 or 1-800-447-6404 (TTY)

You may speak with a representative between: 8:00 am – 5:30 pm Monday – Friday (except state holidays)

The following is an automated number directing the caller to local DD service information: 1-888-DDPLANS or 1-866-376-8446 (TTY)

Visit the website at:


Here are some  resources to use in your school, including “The Book” – A free guide to navigating the Illinois Disability System by Rober Farley

About The Author(s)


Scott Carchedi is the founder and co-editor of SSWN. Scott provides technology support and consultative services to number of school social work associations throughout the US. Scott is also a practicing school social worker in the western suburbs of Chicago, serving grades 8-12.

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