DSCC Creates New Tool to Improve Families’ Access to Available In-Home Nursing

April 9th, 2024

A nurse sits face-to-face with and extends her arms around a girl with complex medical needs

NurseNet helps Home Care Program families connect with nursing agencies to find available nurses in your area.

Finding in-home nurses can be challenging for many families caring for children and adults with complex medical needs.

We’ve created a new tool to help you find and connect with available nursing agencies in your area.

NurseNet aims to bridge the gap between Illinois families who need nursing and home health nursing agencies with available nurses. 

Families of individuals enrolled in the Home Care Program can use NurseNet to share their nursing needs. Nursing agencies that are enrolled with the Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) can share information about where nurses are available. 

This information can help your family find suitable nursing care. It can also help nursing agencies identify opportunities to serve families. 

Anyone can use NurseNet to search for general nursing opportunities across the state. 

The search is set up for families and nursing agencies to find and share what they need easily. As a family enrolled in the Home Care Program, you can log in to NurseNet and enter your nursing needs. 

Nursing agencies can see this information and contact your family within NurseNet if they have a potential nursing opportunity in your area that matches your child’s care needs. You can also use NurseNet to see where nursing opportunities are available throughout Illinois. 

Nursing agencies enrolled with DSCC can log in to NurseNet and enter all areas of the state where they have nurses available. Nursing agencies can also see where families have nursing needs and connect with those families to provide nursing care.  

Visit the NurseNet page on our website to learn about how NurseNet can help both families and nursing agencies. You can also find helpful videos and guides on how to use NurseNet.

We understand the search for in-home nursing can be frustrating and overwhelming. That’s why we created this tool to help you share your nursing needs and connect with nursing agencies with available nurses.

We are excited to offer this tool to help provide nursing connections to our participant families enrolled in the Home Care Program!

Meet Our Medical Advisory Board Member Dr. Carolyn Foster

March 8th, 2024

“I want to improve the delivery of care to kids and families who have the most significant medical needs.”

Dr. Carolyn Foster is a physician and researcher who has dedicated her career to improving the care and quality of life for children with complex medical needs and their families.

Therefore, serving on the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) for the Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) was a natural fit.

Foster joined the board in 2020. She brings her perspective as a provider as well as 15-plus years of research focused on home health care for children with complex medical needs.

“I was acutely aware from my own patients of the role DSCC played in helping them,” Foster said. “I felt I could bring my experiences as a health services researcher and my understanding of how we evaluate healthcare services and what we know about kids with complex medical needs.”

Foster is currently an attending physician at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in advanced general pediatrics and primary care. She is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Her research centers on developing and evaluating healthcare delivery interventions and healthcare policies for children with medical complexity and disability. The purpose is to maximize health outcomes for these children and improve how well their family members and caregivers navigate their systems of care.

Foster is particularly interested in improving both the access to and the quality of home and community- based health care for children to help them live safe, independent and full lives at home, school and beyond.

“I had a family member who had a health condition that impacted her experience in the day-to-day world, and it motivated me to be a physician. When I was in training, I appreciated this tool of using health services research to improve how we deliver care,” she said.

“I want to improve the delivery of care to kids and families who have the most significant medical needs. There is an ongoing gap in how we serve that population, so I want to put my effort there… This patient population deserves a voice, and I’m hoping to further emphasize that.”

Foster said she appreciates DSCC’s work to shed light on these issues statewide. She is happy to help advise and cheer on these efforts.

“Having a child who has a special healthcare need or disability or complex medical problem is really challenging because the health care, education and community resources are not always talking to one another,” she said.

“DSCC is one of those key programs in the state of Illinois that really provides an important function in making it a little easier for families by helping with care coordination and getting what they need for their child.”

Learn more about Foster’s latest research study below:

DSCC’s New Home Care Family Outreach Associate is Available to Support Families

March 4th, 2024

Erica Stearns and her husband stand arm-in-arm between their children Margot and Caratacus Stearns who are in medical wheelchairs while the family enjoys time outdoors

Our Home Care Family Outreach Associate Erica Stearns can offer support, connection and empowerment for DSCC families caring for loved ones with complex medical needs.

We understand that caring for a loved one with complex medical needs can pose unique and sometimes unexpected challenges for families.

We are excited to introduce a new Home Care Family Outreach Associate (HCFOA) on our team who understands these challenges and can provide heartfelt support.

With lived experience as a patient, parent and caregiver, our HCFOA can recognize shared experiences and guide families through the complexities of multiple systems of care.

Our HCFOA also works to create a sense of community for caregivers within the Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC). In this community, families can feel supported, empowered and more confident in their caregiving journey.

Erica Stearns recently joined DSCC as our first HCFOA. She is the proud parent of two children, Margot and Caratacus, who have been enrolled in the Core and Home Care programs since 2016. They reside in southern Illinois and enjoy the beauty of the Shawnee National Forest.

Erica also serves as the co-chair of DSCC’s Family Advisory Council. You can learn more about Erica, her family and her caregiving journey in The Stearns Family Story.

As our HCFOA, Erica works hand-in-hand with families and caregivers to:

  • Create trusting partnerships
  • Offer tailored support in addition to the care coordination services they receive from DSCC
  • Provide essential caregiver resources

Erica helps ensure that caregivers are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to advocate for their children and navigate complex systems of care. She can help support your family as you navigate:

  • Adjusting to a new norm
  • Needing support for your child/loved one’s medical needs and increased level of care
  • Looking for guidance on what to expect
  • Wanting to connect with other families

Families can request to connect with Erica in several ways. You can ask your DSCC care coordination team to refer you to the HCFOA. You can also email a request to speak with Erica at DSCC-FamilySupport@uic.edu.

For more information about the HCFOA and Erica, please visit our Home Care Family Outreach page.

2024 Health Insurance Education Webinar Series for Families Kicks Off in March

February 21st, 2024

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 for Division of Specialized Care for Children participants, their families and anyone interested in learning more about health insurance topics

Is figuring out your health insurance leaving you confused, frustrated or both?

Change your confusion to confidence with the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) Health Insurance Education Series.

These free trainings can help you better navigate your health insurance coverage and benefits. Each month, DSCC team members and other presenters will explain a different topic.

Each presentation will be in English. A Spanish interpretation line will be available during each session.

Check out the topics, mark your calendars and register for each session you’re interested in attending.

The session descriptions are in English followed by Spanish:

  • Social Security Benefits, March 12 at 6 p.m.
    • This training will help you understand Social Security benefits. Presenters from the Social Security Administration will share information about Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance. You will learn who can get benefits and how to apply for benefits. It will also cover what the Social Security program benefits are and how to keep your benefits.
    • See the Social Security flyer for more details.
    • Register on Zoom for Social Security Benefits
  • Medicaid Denials, April 9 at 6 p.m.
    • This training will help you understand Medicaid denials. It will review the common reasons that Medicaid denies services, such as equipment. The presentation will also share tips on how to avoid denials and what to do if Medicaid denies your services. This training will be for those with regular Medicaid and those enrolled in a managed care plan (MCO).
    • See the Medicaid Denials flyer for more details.
    • Register on Zoom for Medicaid Denials
  • Beneficios de Seguro Social, 12 de marzo a las 6 p.m.
    • Esta capacitación lo ayudará a entender los beneficios del Seguro Social. Los presentadores de la Administración del Seguro Social compartirán información sobre el Seguro de Ingreso Suplementario y el Seguro de Incapacidad del Seguro Social. Aprenderá quién puede obtener beneficios y cómo solicitarlos. También cubrirá cuáles son los beneficios del programa de Seguro Social y cómo conservar sus beneficios.
    • Consulte el folleto de Beneficios de Seguro Social para obtener más detalles.
    • Enlace para registrarse
  • Negaciones de Medicaid, 9 de abril a las 6 p.m.
    • Esta capacitación lo ayudará a comprender las negaciones de Medicaid. Revisará las razones comunes por las que Medicaid niega servicios, como equipos. La presentación también compartirá consejos sobre cómo evitar negaciones y qué hacer si Medicaid niega sus servicios. Esta capacitación será para quienes tienen Medicaid regular y quienes están inscritos en un plan de atención administrada (MCO).
    • Consulte el folleto de Negaciones de Medicaid para obtener más detalles.
    • Enlace para registrarse
  • Transición de los beneficios del seguro médico a la edad adulta, 14 de mayo a las 6 p.m.

You can also download a flyer with all the Health Insurance Education Series topics and registration links. (The flyer is also available in Spanish.)

The webinars are open to DSCC participants, their family members and anyone interested in these topics.

This is the second year for the DSCC Health Insurance Education Series. It began in response to DSCC families’ questions and suggestions from our Family Advisory Council.

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

The 2024 Health Insurance Education Series is free for all attendees.

If you miss a session, you can access the recordings and related materials on our Family Education Webinars page.

If you have questions about these webinars before or after a session, email dscc@uic.edu or call (800) 322-3722.

We look forward to seeing you online!

DSCC and State Health Department Partner to Improve In-Home Nursing Options for Families

June 16th, 2022

A stethoscope lying on a white cloth

A new licensure process for nursing agencies will help provide more options for children and adults in need of in-home nursing care

The nationwide nursing shortage has affected many Illinois families in need of in-home shift nursing care for their children with complex medical needs.

There is a constant demand for more in-home nursing care options in all parts of the state, both rural and urban.

The University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) has partnered with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to help meet this need and give families more nursing care options.

DSCC worked with IDPH to change how our enrolled nursing agencies are licensed to serve Illinois counties. Nursing agencies can now be licensed to serve all of Illinois instead of only individual counties.

This change should make it easier for nursing agencies to serve more parts of the state.

Before this change, nursing agencies could only operate within their approved service county area. Nursing agencies had to request approval for each county they wanted to serve.

This process made it difficult for nursing agencies to expand coverage to areas in need. Our participants who receive in-home shift nursing through the Home Care Program could only receive services from nursing agencies licensed for their specific county.

Now all nursing agencies who are licensed and enrolled with DSCC in good standing may serve all Home Care participants in any part of the state.

This broader statewide approach to nursing agency licenses will offer more available nursing options to our participant families.

Please note that each nursing agency must decide if it wants to expand its service area to other parts of the state. This decision is based on nursing staff availability.

We are thankful for IDPH’s partnership to help meet this important need for our participants and their families!