Author: David Wolowitz & Michael O'Connor, Prairie State Legal Services
Last updated: November 2006
What It Is: A program that pays a monthly stipend to families providing care at home to certain children with developmental disabilities.
Who May Be Eligible: Families caring at home for children under 18 who have a severe mental disability, including severe autism, severe or profound mental retardation, and severe emotional disturbance.
The Family Assistance Program
The Family Assistance Program helps families providing care in the family home for children with severe mental disabilities. The program is for families with children whose level of disability might otherwise require out-of-home placement. It provides financial assistance to help meet the special service needs and unusual expenses connected with having a severely disabled child living in the home.
The assistance is in the form of a monthly stipend. It equals the amount of the monthly federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment to an individual residing alone. For the year 2004, this amount is $564/month.
The family must use the monthly stipend to help meet the expenses related to the child's presence in the family home. The child's parent must be responsible for deciding how to use the stipend.
Examples of the uses of the stipend include:
Every year, as a parent, you must submit a signed, written statement to the Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Disabilities. This statement must verify that the stipend was used to meet the special needs of the family due to the presence of the child in the home.
If the child is living outside the home, the family may apply for a single, one-time advance payment. This payment cannot be more than twice the monthly stipend. Its purpose is to prepare family members and/or the family home to meet the special needs of the eligible child.
The child must be age 17 or under with a severe mental disability. Qualifying disabilities include:
The child must live with a biological, adoptive or foster parent, or legal guardian. Families planning to move the child back into the home with the help of this Program also can apply. The family must have annual taxable income of $50,000 or less.
Payments will continue until the child reaches age 18, the child dies, the family income exceeds the allowable limit, or the child no longer lives in the home.
You apply for this program to the Illinois Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Disabilities. The State has not appropriated enough money to make this program available to all eligible families. When funds become available to allow more families to participate, the Department holds a random drawing of pending applications. Drawings are usually held during the summer among applications that were received by May 31 of that year.
To obtain an application, call (800) 843-6154, ext 3.
If the Department denies your application or terminates your stipend, you are entitled to a written notice. The notice must explain the reasons for that decision. The Department must issue a notice on a new application within 30 days of the date you apply.
If you disagree with the denial of your application or termination of your stipend, you must make a written appeal within 20 days of the day you received the notice. A pre-appeal conference may be held before a formal hearing. At this conference, you can discuss any disputes of facts and try to reach an agreement.
If no agreement is reached at the pre-appeal conference, a formal appeal hearing will be held within 60 days after the date your notice of appeal was filed. At this hearing you have the right t
The hearing officer will make a written decision within five days.
If the matter is still not resolved, you may make a written request to the Secretary of the Department of Human Services. This request must be filed within 10 days of the date you received the hearing officer's decision. The Secretary will review the entire file and issue a final written decision within 20 days.
If you disagree with the Secretary's decision, you may file a complaint in the Illinois Circuit Court of the county where you live. This complaint must be filed no later than 35 days after the date that the decision was issued. A state judge will then review the decision.
The Family Assistance Law for Mentally Disabled Children can be found at 405 ILCS 80/3.
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