Service Utilization and the Individual, Family, and Neighborhood Characteristics of Children with Disabilities in Illinois. A. Data Description


This section describes the datasets that have been integrated for this study, the nature or format of each of those datasets, and the variables that are available for analysis. We also discuss the reliability of the data.

Department of Public Aid, Client Database

Illinois Department of Public Aid maintains a client database that includes Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD), Medicaid, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and Food Stamps. AABD is the specific program that we focused on for this study. As stated in the Department description, "AABD is specifically for people who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled (blind or disabled children are included). It is available to people who have applied for, or are receiving, a monthly SSI check from the Social Security Administration. It is also available to people who meet the age/disability criteria for SSI, but whose income is from Social Security or a different source." AABD receipt entitles the recipient to Medicaid in addition to supplemental cash assistance. The database contains demographic details (such as client's age, sex, and address), case opening and closing dates, family composition, level of need, and deduction and grant size.

Department of Public Aid, Medical Service Database

The Principal Investigator has requested (in November, 1990) and received access (in March, 1991) to the Medical Services database of the Illinois Department of Public Aid, the state agency that administers the Medicaid program in Illinois. Non-residential services included under Medicaid include, but are not limited to, assessment, treatment planning, medication, crisis intervention, day treatment, individual, family and group psychotherapy, community-based rehabilitation, intensive family-based services, case management developmental rehabilitation, and pre-hospital screening. "Medicaid" services reflect the full range of medical services provided to children by health care providers in Illinois; a "Medicaid" service simply refers to the method of reimbursement.

The quality of the Medicaid data, in general, is thought to be good. Since the records of the database are tied to payments made to providers, all services provided should be included. Also, since there are regular audits of this data for the purposes of data quality and fraud detection, we expect the data to be of good quality. Finally, automated "edit-checking" prevents wrong codes from being entered into the database.

Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities

The inpatient system records the inpatient episodes of children, adolescents, and adults in the state facilities. The strength of the database is that it is longitudinal and that for some cases it may go back as far as five decades. The database contains the admission date, the movement date (if a change in setting occurred), the prior admission date, and the date of discharge. It contains important demographic information, behavioral characteristics, administrative data (e.g. unit, planning area), legal status and social security number.

The information in this database is believed to be reliable and can often be checked from the case files themselves. The database is useful for tracking admissions and readmissions, length of stay, specific diagnoses, and discharge status of children and adolescents that are hospitalized in DMHDD facilities. However, we do recognize that diagnoses are often used to get a child into an inpatient facility and may not be the result of a comprehensive assessment.

Illinois State Board of Education (Special education database)

There are two funding sources under which handicapped children and adolescents are served. The first is Public Law 94-142, which is the Education of the Handicapped Act. The second is P.L. 89- 313, the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981, which is the source under which children and adolescents are placed in residential care. These two funding sources are tracked separately. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBOE) maintains a computerized child tracking system of children who receive special education services in the state of Illinois, the Funding and Child Tracking System (F.A.C.T.S.).

The F.A.C.T.S information system contains information on the child or adolescent's demographics, services received, primary, secondary and tertiary handicap, and type of facility in which service is provided. Since 1) the special education population is the largest population of children who are disabled, 2) most disabled children are first identified as such in the schools and 3) P.L. 94-142 puts the responsibility of serving all children with handicapping conditions aged 3-21 with the schools, this database is an important tool for counting children with specific handicaps and for identifying precursors to future problems.

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