DSCC Quality Specialist Honored for Service to Families in Crisis

July 25th, 2023

portrait of Tess Rhodes

CountyCare awarded Tess Rhodes its Certificate of Excellence for her commitment and dedication

Tess Rhodes is a registered nurse on our Quality Improvement Team. She collaborates with her Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) teammates and partner organizations across Illinois to make sure children in crisis have the right support.

A managed care health plan recently honored Tess for these efforts to protect the safety of children and families.

CountyCare’s Health, Safety and Welfare Team awarded Tess its Certificate of Excellence. The certificate recognizes her “tremendous commitment and dedication” to keeping County Care participants safe and meeting their families’ needs.

Tess said she couldn’t do this important work without DSCC’s care coordination teams and our partners in the community.

DSCC has a contract with CountyCare to provide care coordination to the children and youth with special healthcare needs in its Medicaid managed care health plan.

As a Core/Connect Care Quality Improvement Specialist, Tess helps DSCC’s care coordination teams when a participant enrolled in CountyCare has a critical incident.

Critical incidents are events or situations that create a significant risk of substantial or serious harm to a participant’s physical or mental health, safety or well-being. They can include:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Harassment or bullying
  • Death of a family member
  • Significant injuries
  • Medication or treatment errors
  • Threat of self-harm

DSCC works with CountyCare to report these incidents and make sure our teams respond to reduce any risks for our participants and help them get the right resources and services they need.

When DSCC team members learn of a critical incident, they must report it to CountyCare within 24 hours of notification.

Tess says it’s important to first ensure that our child/youth is safe and that their family receives the right support for their situation.

Tess and the DSCC care coordination teams work alongside CountyCare staff, the child’s medical team and others to provide access to services and resources.

The DSCC Care Coordinator checks in with the family bi-weekly after a crucial incident to help and monitor the outcome. Tess assists in the process by guiding the participant’s Care Coordinator and providing more resources and materials for education.

Once CountyCare closes a critical incident, Tess continues to monitor the situation and provides final updates at the 30-, 60- and 90-day marks. She also coordinates meetings for all care team members to discuss the incident and develop a plan of support.

“This requires very detailed organizational skills, and Tess never misses an update or chance to help,” her supervisor, Quality Improvement Manager Brandon Bartels, said.

Brandon praised Tess’ “exceptional” communication with CountyCare and her collaboration to keep participants’ and families’ needs at the forefront.

“Tess has received accolades by email from their team multiple times, so this Certificate of Excellence proves not only have they valued her efforts in the past but her continued support for our participants, Care Coordinators, and relationship with CountyCare is truly making an impact,” he said.

Congratulations, Tess! We are grateful for your compassion, teamwork and commitment to children and families!

Former DSCC Employee Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

March 31st, 2021

headshot of Ralph Schubert

Ralph Schubert honored for 40 years helping Illinois children and families

Ralph Schubert has received the Title V Lifetime Achievement Award from the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

Ralph is the former Associate Director for Title V Programs at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC). He retired in August 2020.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of maternal and child health over time.

“He’s been a tireless and lifelong advocate for children,” said Dr. Michael Warren, the Associate Administrator of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

Ralph has 40 years of public health experience in various local, state and federal positions in Illinois.

“I never expected to be considered for this award let alone selected to receive it,” Ralph said. “I am deeply honored.”

Before joining DSCC, Ralph spent a combined 30 years at the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois Department of Human Services.

His leadership positions at these agencies included Manager of Maternal and Child Health Grants and Program Development Unit. Ralph also served as the acting Associate Director for Family Health and the Associate Director for Program Planning and Development, where he was responsible for developing and implementing a new community health and prevention program.

He later became the Director of Public Policy for the Illinois Public Health Association before joining DSCC in August 2016.

Ralph said a major highlight of his career was helping lead the Healthy Families Illinois initiative.

Healthy Families Illinois is a home visitation program to support new and expectant parents and improve children’s safety. He collaborated with a group of 75 advocates, service provides and others to design, implement and expand this program. 

Ralph’s work with Healthy Families Illinois earned him the Friend of Children Award from Prevent Child Abuse Illinois and a Leadership Award from Voices for Illinois Children.

Ralph said he is grateful for the people he has worked with for supporting him and challenging him to be better throughout his career.

Now that he is retired, Ralph is pursuing his third master’s degree and plans to do mission work in Africa.

Congratulations, Ralph, and thank you for your service!