lightford floor PUNS signing releaseSPRINGFIELD – Students with developmental disabilities will soon find it easier to get the help they and their families need. Sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood), a new law requires the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to train public school case workers to register students with the PUNS (Prioritization or Urgency of Need for Services) database.

Experts argued that due to a lack of awareness, PUNS is under-utilized, and therefore, people with developmental disabilities across the state are not getting the services they need. The law will ensure students in Illinois public schools and parents have the information they need to register with PUNS if they so choose.

“A database that ensures that people with developmental disabilities are never overlooked and always given help is no help to anyone if it is not used,” said Sen. Lightford. “Through this new law, we can ensure that students in the greatest need receive the resources they require to succeed and lead healthy, productive lives.”

DHS and ISBE will also develop a new program to provide resources and training for case workers so they are as prepared as possible to provide these students and their families with the information and advice they need. The law also requires ISBE to inform parents and guardians concerning the PUNS waiting list through school districts.

The measure was signed into law July 27, 2015.