SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Parents of students with special needs would receive additional information about state programs for which their child may be eligible under legislation introduced by state Rep. Maura Hirschauer, D-Batavia.
“Many teachers and school staff already do a wonderful job of connecting special needs families with resources to help their child inside and outside the classroom, but this should be uniform across all school districts,” said Hirschauer. “Registering with the PUNS database is the first step families can take to receive developmental disability services, so it’s important that they know it exists and how to sign up.”
Hirschauer introduced House Bill 290, which requires school districts to notify parents of students with individualized education programs (IEPs) that their child may be eligible to receive services by registering with Illinois’ PUNS database. PUNS stands for Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services and is a statewide database from which individuals are selected for services as funding becomes available. Under Hirschauer’s bill, families would receive a copy of the Illinois Department of Human Services’ ‘Understanding PUNS’ guide during their initial meeting with school officials to develop a student’s IEP and once a year after that. The guide is also available for download at https://www.dhs.state.il.us/OneNetLibrary/27897/documents/Brochures/4313.pdf.
“While not every student with an IEP will be eligible for state services, it’s still beneficial for them to understand the PUNS enrollment process in case their needs change over time,” said Hirschauer. “I am hopeful that my legislation will help more families access critical services and supports both now and in the future.”
Hirschauer recently passed House Bill 290 out of the House Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee, and it now moves to the full House for consideration.