IDHS announces office closures, staff reductions
Online and telephone support still available
By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Human Services said Thursday that it is closing many of its offices around the state and will reduce staff at other offices at least through early April due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
All offices of the Division of Rehabilitation Services, which serves people with disabilities, are closed until early April. People who receive services through that division are able to reach their local offices through regular office phone numbers, which can be found on the office locator website.
Family and Community Resource Centers, where people go to apply for services such as child care assistance, emergency food, cash assistance and a wide range of other services, will remain open but will operate with significantly reduced staff of 30 to 50 percent.
While those offices will remain open, the agency urges anyone who is able to apply for and manage their benefits online to do so through the Application for Benefits Eligibility website: ABE.illinois.gov. People may also call the ABE call center at 1-800-843-6154.
The agency said many staff who do not work directly with the public will be working remotely and will still be able to process benefits.
Although there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among IDHS staff, the agency said it was taking the measures out of an abundance of caution, and in conformity with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“As we work in coordination with our sister agency, the Illinois Department of Public Health, we learn new information daily,” IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou said in a statement. “We remain dedicated to finding the safest, most responsible way to keep life-giving and life-changing programs and services available throughout this crisis, but we need your help. If you can, I urge you to use our online resources or call by phone.”