What is the Office of the Inspector General for the Illinois Department of Human Services?
The Office of the Inspector General, or OIG, investigates allegations of neglect or abuse of people who live in state-supported facilities, and allegations of financial exploitation, sexual and physical abuse and neglect of disabled adults who live in their own homes. Like all state government agencies, the Illinois Auditor General oversees the OIG.
What is the Adults with Disabilities Abuse Project?
On July 1, 2000, the Illinois Legislature extended the OIG's role of investigating abuse and neglect allegations in state-paid facilities to private homes. The program was established to investigate, prevent and eliminate physical and sexual abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults ages 18-59 who are disabled and trust their care to family members or others in their home.
How does the OIG find out a disabled person is being abused?
The OIG established a toll-free hotline to receive allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation. It employs investigators to determine whether the allegations are valid and to provide access to services that could help the abused person. The investigators also are supposed to work with law enforcement in cases where there may be criminal concerns.
How do you report abuse or neglect of a disabled person who lives at home?
The hotline number is 1-800-368-1463. It is staffed by operators who are also trained investigators from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. weekdays. After hours, an answering service takes names and numbers and an investigator returns the call during business hours. Callers are asked the name and address of the disabled adult, the name and address of the alleged abuser and the nature of the abuse, neglect or exploitation.
What happens next?
The hotline investigator will either accept the allegation for investigation, reject it or refer the caller to another agency, such as the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Aging or local law enforcement for help. The OIG rejects about four in 10 calls for help. If the report is accepted for assessment, an investigator will have a face-to-face interview with the disabled adult who is the subject of the alleged abuse or neglect. An investigator who believes the person is in imminent danger of injury or death may take the person into protective custody. If an investigator has some reason to believe the abuse or neglect occurred, he will refer the case to the Department of Human Services to develop a service plan.
How much power do investigators have?
The OIG can subpoena witnesses and seize financial records, documents and medical records to conduct its investigation. The OIG is not subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, giving it easy access to medical records. If the OIG is denied access to the alleged victim, it can get help from law enforcement or the courts. An OIG investigator can immediately remove a disabled person from a home if he has reason to believe the person is in immediate danger of harm.
Does the disabled person have a choice?
If the disabled adult refuses or withdraws his consent to the completion of the service plan or investigation, the investigation or service plan ends. If the guardian of the disabled adult refuses to consent to an investigation or services, the investigator may seek to temporarily substitute a guardian if they believe there is a lack of food, hygiene or medications, or medical treatments aren't being provided. They also may ask that the guardian be removed.