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.

Resources and Tips to Promote Good Mental Health

May 23rd, 2022

The words "Mental Health" spelled out with individual letter tiles

Helpful tools and resources for individuals of all ages in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Society often focuses on physical health rather than mental health, but both are equally important. Mental health plays a big role in our overall well-being.

Although the pandemic’s challenges have led to more conversations about mental health, talking about it can still feel difficult or out of reach.

It’s important to remember that we all face challenges in life that can affect our mental well-being.

Understanding the topic can help us maintain good mental health and be more informed when experiencing a mental health condition or crisis.

Our Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) team has pulled together a few resources to help get started:

  • Life can be challenging, but every day shouldn’t feel hard or out of our control. A mental health screening at mhascreening.org can help provide a quick snapshot of our personal mental health. The screening is free and anonymous. The screening results can help start a conversation with your primary care provider.
  • Our DSCC Transition Tools include a Mental Health Resources tip sheet with a helpful list of crisis hotlines, service locators, videos and more.

Remember the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 and the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A new, nationwide three-digit number will also be available this summer for people facing mental health crises. Starting on July 16, anyone in the United States can call 988 and get connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

More mental health resources are available in our online Resource Directory. You can also follow our DSCC Facebook page for more reminders and tips throughout the rest of the month.

Knowing the basics about mental health will help us all feel better prepared when needed.  Support is out there, and recovery is possible.