DSCC Earns Case Management Accreditation

May 7th, 2024

Seal of Case Management Accreditation for three years from the National Committee for Quality Assurance

The prestigious achievement recognizes our commitment to providing the highest quality service and support to our participant families.

We are proud to share a significant milestone for our University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) team.

DSCC has earned Case Management Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This achievement recognizes our commitment to providing exceptional care coordination and related support to our participant families.

NCQA accreditation is widely known as a symbol of quality and shows an organization’s dedication to meeting high performance measures and continuous improvement.

“We are thrilled to receive NCQA Case Management Accreditation, which highlights the strength and person-centered focus of our care coordination services,” said DSCC Executive Director Thomas F. Jerkovitz.

“This achievement reflects the great work of our entire DSCC team to improve operations and strengthen how we partner, help and connect with families throughout the state. We hope our participant families can feel confident and empowered, knowing they have a strong support system focused on improving their quality of life.”

DSCC provides care coordination to Illinois children and youth with special healthcare needs and their families through several programs.

We tailor our care coordination to each family’s unique needs and goals. We partner with them to develop a care plan focused on a child’s medial, social, behavioral, educational and financial needs.

Our care coordination can include finding specialized medical care, helping families understand their child’s diagnosis and medical treatment plan, explaining insurance benefits and attending school meetings.

In 2021, DSCC’s leadership set a strategic goal to work toward NCQA accreditation. Our team members have worked for more than three years to achieve this major recognition.

NCQA purposely sets its accreditation standards high to encourage organizations to continuously enhance their quality. The standards aim to help organizations achieve the highest level of performance possible and create an environment of continuous improvement.

The NCQA Case Management Accreditation Program reviewed our care coordination and entire organization against the following standards:

  1. Program Description: The organization uses up-to-date evidence-based information to develop its case management program and regularly updates the program with relevant findings and information.
  2. Patient Identification and Assessment: The organization systematically identifies patients who qualify for its programs.
  3. Care Planning: The organization coordinates services for patients through the development of individualized care plans.
  4. Care Monitoring: The organization has systems in place to support case management activities and monitors individualized care plans.
  5. Care Transitions: The organization has a process to manage care transitions, identify problems that could cause care transitions and prevent unplanned transitions, when possible.
  6. Measurement and Quality Improvement: At least annually, the organization measures patient satisfaction, program effectiveness and participation rates.
  7. Staffing, Training and Verification: The organization defines staffing needs, provides staff with ongoing training and oversight and verifies healthcare staff credentials.
  8. Rights and Responsibilities: The organization communicates its commitment to the rights of patients and its expectations of patients’ responsibilities.

“Case Management Accreditation moves us closer to measuring quality across population health management initiatives,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Not only does it add value to existing quality improvement efforts; it also demonstrates an organization’s commitment to the highest degree of improving the quality of their patients’ care.”

A big congratulations and thank you to everyone who helped us reach this milestone!

NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA’s website (ncqa.org) contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more-informed health care choices. NCQA can be found online at ncqa.org, on Twitter @ncqa, on Facebook at facebook.com/NCQA.org/ and on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/ncqa.

New Youth Advisory Council for Teens and Young Adults With Special Healthcare Needs

March 27th, 2024

A diverse group of four students, including a young woman in a wheelchair, gathered in a college library and enjoying discussion

An opportunity for youth to help improve transition support and make a difference!

Youth with special healthcare needs should have a big role in shaping their future and helping improve support for others.

We want to hear from teens and young adults about what’s important and helpful to them as they plan for the future. Our new Youth Advisory Council is a great opportunity for them to share their input and make a difference.

The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is a diverse, youth-driven group that aims to develop more youth-focused ways to help individuals and families with transition planning, resources and services.

The YAC’s goal is to support positive outcomes in adulthood for all Illinois youth with special healthcare needs in the areas of:

  • Employment
  • Health care
  • Independence
  • Quality of life

The YAC’s role is to:

  • Bring a different and personal perspective on issues important to youth.
  • Partner with the Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) to help develop more youth-focused methods to enhance care coordination.
  • Develop strategies to improve communication between youth/young adults and older adults.

Members participate in four virtual meetings per year.

Who is Eligible to Join the YAC?

The YAC is open to youth with special healthcare needs who are:

  • Ages 15 to 24
  • Living in Illinois
  • Planning for the transition to adulthood in the areas of education, health care, employment and home and community-based support

Youth do not have to be a DSCC participant to join the council.

How to Join and Learn More

Members must complete an online application to join. (The application is also available in Spanish.)

Visit our Youth Advisory Council page for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

You can also see the YAC flyer for more details:

If you have questions, please contact Claire Cook, DSCC’s Title V Program Transition Specialist, at clairer3@uic.edu or (800) 322-3722, ext. 1812.

Inclusive Summer Camp Programs for All Ages

March 21st, 2024

The text, "Summer Camp," written with chalk on chalkboard next to chalk sticks of different bright colors

Our list of camps and activities all over Illinois can help you find the right fit for your child

Summer and the long break from school are right around the corner!

The good news is there are a variety of programs throughout the state to help keep your children engaged and learning.

We’ve gathered a list of day and overnight camps as well as virtual programs for youth of all ages with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Does your child want to make new friends? Develop new skills? Meet others with their same condition or become more independent?

Our 2024 summer camp list can help you find the right fit.

There are several ways to search the camp opportunities on our website:

These camps are accessible and inclusive for a variety of ages and needs, including many of our program’s eligible medical conditions.

Please note that program deadlines vary, and some camps fill up quickly.

Know of a good summer camp opportunity to add to our list?

Send us the details at dscc@uic.edu. We’ll continue to update our list of camps and activities, so please check back often!

DSCC Families, It’s Time to Share Your Input!

January 24th, 2024

The text "Your Feedback Matters" coming out of a megaphone icon

Our annual family survey is an easy way to share your feedback and make a direct impact.

Our participant families are important to us, and your feedback matters.

On Feb. 15, all Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) participants will receive our annual family survey.

This survey asks how well our team members support your family and meet your needs. It also asks about:

  • Your contact preferences
  • How and when you’d like to meet with our team
  • How well our staff communicates with you

You will receive this survey either by email or mail, based on your preferences. If you respond, you will have a chance to win a $50 Visa gift card.*

Your responses will help us strengthen your services. They also guide updates to our DSCC policies and procedures that affect your family.

Our surveys are optional, but we strongly encourage you to share your experiences. We want to ensure we’re doing all we can to help you meet your family’s needs and achieve your goals.

* Please note: Foreign national nonresident aliens are not eligible for the gift card participation prize.

How Your Feedback Makes a Difference

Listening to our participant families is a priority. Your ideas and concerns have helped strengthen our services and guide improvement projects.

Here’s an overview of how the 2023 survey input and overall family feedback made a difference at DSCC:

  • Our authorizations are now easier to fill out and keep up to date. We updated the form authorizing us to share information with multiple providers, meaning only one signature on one form.
  • Our online resource library is now searchable. Families shared their need for more resources. In response, we updated our online Resource Directory and Events page to add search features. This improvement should help all Illinois families of children and youth with special healthcare needs find and share resources more easily.
  • We resumed face-to-face visits. Our care coordination teams resumed face-to-face visits with families following the end of the public health emergency on May 11, 2023. Meeting in person should further improve our connection and engagement with families.
  • We created a new Family Portal. In October 2023, DSCC introduced a new Family Portal to better connect families with their care teams. The portal gives participant families one place to communicate with their care coordination teams, sign documents and access information.
  • We created “All About Me” Pages to help others get to know your child. DSCC developed “All About Me” Pages so families can highlight their child’s strengths, medical needs and more. Families can personalize the templates to best fit their child’s personality. You can share these templates with medical providers, schools, other caregivers and so on. These pages should make it easier to share what works best for your child, what they like and dislike, and their medical needs. These templates are available on our website’s “All About Me” Pages section.
  • We’ve partnered to improve nursing availability throughout the state. Nursing agencies that work with DSCC can now receive a license to work across the state. We partnered with the Illinois Department of Public Health to make this change. The new license process offers more opportunities for nursing coverage for families of children and adults with complex medical needs. DSCC is also developing NurseNet. This interactive website will allow families looking for nursing to connect with nursing agencies.

Please be on the lookout for our annual survey on Feb. 15.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact your Care Coordinator.

We appreciate your partnership and look forward to hearing from you!

Introducing “All About Me” Pages to Highlight Your Child’s Strengths, Needs and More

December 13th, 2023

We’ve created free templates you can personalize to help doctors, schools and others get to know your child

It takes a village to care for children and youth with special healthcare needs. Parents and caregivers must partner with many different team members — specialists, nurses, therapists, educators and so on — to help their children reach their full potential.

Ensuring everyone understands your child and their unique needs can be exhausting. We want to help make it easier to share your child’s strengths, wants, goals and more.

All About Me Page template with a sun design

We’ve created “All About Me” Pages that you can personalize to help anyone get to know your child. These free templates highlight what works best for your child, what they like and dislike and who they are as a person.

There are a variety of designs to choose from to help you capture your child’s personality and what makes them unique.

Visit the new “All About Me” Pages section of our website to see the templates and learn how to customize them for your child. 

Our “All About Me” Page templates are available for anyone to download and customize.

If you are a Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) participant and need help using the templates, please contact your Care Coordinator. 

These pages are a result of feedback from our annual family surveys and our Family Advisory Council meetings.

We hope these pages can be helpful conversation starters with new doctors, nurses, teachers and other caregivers for your child. 

Home Care Region 2 Care Coordinator Earns DSCC’s Award of Merit

December 1st, 2023

Executive Director Thomas F. Jerkovtiz presents Ned Kostur with his Award of Merit nomination certificate

DSCC honors Ned Kostur for outstanding service to Illinois children and youth with special healthcare needs and their families

Care Coordinator Ned Kostur is the 2023 recipient of the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) Merit Award.

The award recognizes exceptional employees for outstanding dedication and service to Illinois children and youth with special healthcare needs.

“Ned is an outstanding Care Coordinator. He is a trusted mentor to his teammates and a caring and dedicated partner to the families he serves, helping meet their needs and improve the quality of their lives,” DSCC Executive Director Thomas F. Jerkovitz said.

Ned is based in our Lombard Regional Office and works for DSCC’s Home Care Region 2. As a Care Coordinator in the Home Care Program, he helps families of children and youth who need in-home nursing to safely live at home.

Many of the DSCC participants Ned works with are on the Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for Those Who are Medically Fragile Technology Dependent (commonly called the MFTD waiver). These children and youth have more complex medical needs that require a higher level of care.

Ned helps educate their families about the services and benefits of the MFTD waiver and other state programs that can help meet their needs. He also guides families through the process of modifying their homes to support their child’s medical care and equipment.

Ned Kostur is the DSCC 2023 Award of Merit winner. He has short brown hair, and a mustache and beard with flecks of gray. He is wearing a black and white checked shirt with black pants.
Ned Kostur is DSCC’s 2023 Award of Merit recipient.

“I meet with families, which I enjoy very much. It’s just a rewarding experience to get a piece of equipment or to finally find that right nursing fit for that family and just to see the smile on the family’s face as we’re aiding them in their journey in helping their child,” Ned said. “It’s just a great organization to work for.”

Ned began his journey with DSCC in 2003. Over the last two decades, he has worked in both the Core and Home Care programs.

Ned is a “go-to” for his colleagues who describe him as caring, compassionate, considerate, and hard-working. They also love how his passion for serving our participant families shines through in all his actions.

“Ned exemplifies what great care coordination looks like and its positive impact on the families we serve,” said Terri-lynn Jones Wood, Assistant Director of Home Care Operations for Regions 2, 4 and 6.

“He has a true desire to bring families a sense of relief and understanding that they have someone on their side, someone they can trust and rely on,” Home Care Region 2 Regional Manager Mariangely Spilotro-Marquez added.

“He takes great pride in his work and ensuring that families understand Home Care, the services provided, what his role is and how he can assist them.”

Ned draws on his experience in clinical psychology, biology, treatment and discharge planning, quality assurance, teaching and more to help others. His Lombard teammates appreciate his wealth of knowledge about DSCC processes and resources, sense of humor and willingness to help in any situation.

“He has shown me what it means to be dedicated, empathetic and professional,” Program Coordinator Assistant Kimberley Firkins said. “Ned’s the perfect example of what it means to partner, help, and connect, not only with our families and providers but also within the organization, with his teams, and his co-workers.”

Learn more about Ned and his exceptional service to families in this video below:

DSCC staff nominated a total of five of their colleagues for this year’s Merit Award. As the winner, Ned receives a Merit Award memento, a $2,500 award and recognition from the Executive Director.

The other 2023 nominees are:

  • Elizabeth “Liz” Bailey, Home Care Enrollment Manager, Lombard Regional Office
  • Lisa Garbe, Assistant Regional Manager. Marion and Olney Regional Offices
  • Mayra Rubio, Bilingual Care Coordinator, Mokena Regional Office
  • Amanda Simhauser, Communications Manager, Central Administrative Office in Springfield

A big congratulations to Ned and all the 2023 nominees! We are grateful for your service and commitment to Illinois families!

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!

2023 Summer Camp Opportunities for All Ages and Abilities

March 29th, 2023

The text, "Summer Camp," written with chalk on chalkboard next to chalk sticks of different bright colors

Check out our list of inclusive camps to help you find the right fit for your child

It’s never too early to start planning for summer break activities.

Fortunately, there are a variety of opportunities for children and young adults with special healthcare needs.

We’ve compiled a list of day and overnight camps across Illinois as well as virtual programs.

Does your child want to make new friends? Develop new skills? Meet others with their condition or become more independent?

Our 2023 summer camp list can help you find the right fit.

These camps are accessible and inclusive for a variety of needs, including many of our program’s eligible medical conditions.

Our events calendar shows the summer camps listed by date. You may also search for events in your area by clicking on a regional office near you.

Know of a good summer camp opportunity to add to our list?

Send us the details at dscc@uic.edu. We’ll continue to update our list of camps and activities, so please check back often. 

New Health Insurance Education Series Open to All DSCC Families

February 20th, 2023

On the left is a dark blue box with rounded corners with white text that says: Health Insurance Education Series. DSCC's logo is below it. In the upper right and going down the page is a cup of coffee, part of a keyboard and a bright gold pen.

Free virtual training sessions in English and Spanish for Division of Specialized Care for Children participants, their families and all who are interested

Navigating the health insurance maze can be frustrating.

We’ve heard our participant families’ feedback and want to help improve the process.

Please join the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) for our new education series on important health insurance topics.

These free, family-focused sessions will help you better understand your coverage and benefits.

Sessions are virtual and open to DSCC participants, their families/caregivers and anyone interested in these topics.

The DSCC Health Insurance Education Series is the result of DSCC families’ questions and suggestions from our Family Advisory Council.

Our Benefits Management and Research (BMR) team will explain a different topic and answer your questions each month. They will present each session in English and in Spanish via Zoom.

Save the date for each session:

Details about each series session are also posted on our Events page.

Each session will be recorded. You can access the recordings and related materials on our Family Education Webinars page.

There is no cost for families to participate.

If you have questions before or after a session, please email dscc@uic.edu or fill out our Contact Us form.

We hope you’ll join us!

Chicago Care Coordinator Earns DSCC Merit Award

December 6th, 2022

Portrait of DSCC's 2022 Merit Award Winner David Martinez

David Martinez honored for his dedication to supporting Illinois children with special healthcare needs and their families

David Martinez is the 2022 recipient of the Merit Award from the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC).

The award recognizes exceptional employees for outstanding dedication and service to Illinois children with special healthcare needs and their families.

David is a Care Coordinator in the Chicago Central Office. In this role, he helps families develop personalized care plans for their children’s unique needs and connects them to the right services and resources.

“David has a remarkable ability to partner with our participant families and empower them to help reach their full potential,” DSCC Executive Director Thomas F. Jerkovitz said. “He works with families from a variety of cultural backgrounds and helps them feel understood and able to navigate the systems involved in their child’s care.”

David’s Chicago teammates say he has a talent for helping families and working “magic” in situations where others might not see a way.

“He is culturally sensitive, proactive and able to put himself in other people’s shoes so that he can better understand their situation and how best to partner with them to find a solution,” said Assistant Director of Research and Practice Initiative and former Chicago Central Regional Manager Patricia Perez.

David is a licensed clinical social worker. He grew up in El Salvador and studied criminal justice after coming to the United States.

He provided substance abuse programs at the Cook County Jail before deciding to pursue social work. This decision stemmed from his desire to help others and make an impact on families as early as possible.

David worked in mental health before joining DSCC in April 2016. He says he is honored to work for DSCC and with his amazing colleagues and managers in the Chicago Central office.

“Building strong relationships with my co-workers and the families we serve energizes me every single day,” David said. “Our families’ needs go beyond just medical. Every day is an opportunity to look at a situation from all different aspects and find a solution that can meet their needs. Sometimes it’s as simple as just listening.”

David said his DSCC career has helped him learn about many different cultures and that care coordination is not one-size-fits-all.

“Meeting the family where they are – that’s my starting point,” David said. “When I’m meeting with families, I tell them we are a team.”

David has helped achieve many successful outcomes for his participant families. In early 2022, he secured a $36,000 grant through the Guaranteed Rate Foundation to purchase and install a vehicle wheelchair lift in a participant family’s van and to make their bathroom wheelchair accessible.

But David says his proudest achievements are the relationships he builds with families.

“It would be impossible for me to deliver my passion in social work without having a relationship with families and open communication,” David said. “To be able to talk to families on a monthly basis and help them navigate through issues in life, that is my biggest accomplishment — having the trust the families place in me and DSCC.”

Our DSCC team nominated a total of 12 of our colleagues for this year’s Merit Award. As the winner, David receives a Merit Award memento, a $2,500 award and recognition from the Executive Director.

The other 2022 nominees are:

  • Melissa Croft, Home Care Enrollment Specialist, Lombard Regional Office
  • Christina “Tina” Glim, Care Coordinator, Mokena Regional Office
  • Kristin Grubb, Administrative Aide, Peoria Regional Office
  • Becky Helmink, Program Coordinator Assistant, Olney Regional Office
  • Paula Holaday, Home Care Quality Improvement Specialist, Peoria Regional Office
  • Marlo Johnson, Human Resources Officer, Central Administrative Office in Springfield
  • Amy Jones, Regional Manager, Olney and Marion Regional Offices
  • Danielle Osburn, Home Care Claims Process Lead, Central Administrative Office in Springfield
  • Elma Saladar, Care Coordinator, Chicago Central
  • Cindy Saxsma, Administrative Aide, Central Administrative Office in Springfield
  • Katherine Serrano, Care Coordinator, Chicago Core

Congratulations, David! And a big thank you to all the nominees for their excellence on behalf of our participants and their families!