• The Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) is an adult vocational rehabilitation agency that falls under the umbrella of the Illinois Department of Human Services. DRS is a program developed to assist eligible students with career and educational goals post-high school. DRS offers services to students with disabilities during their high school or transition years through the Secondary Transitional Experience Program (STEP). Hopewell Academy encourages students to participate in the STEP program to assist in linking them with adult services upon graduation or aging out.

  • What can DRS do for me?

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    • Assist in developing appropriate work habits and realistic career goals
    • Provide career exploration
    • Help develop social skills to ensure successful employment
    • Job training and placement
    • Paid work experiences
    • Job coaching
    • Coordination of post-secondary education and training
    • School sponsorship
    • Independent living services


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  • Am I an appropriate referral for STEP?

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    Students who are receiving special education services and demonstrate challenges that impact their ability to obtain and maintain employment, require assistance to succeed in the workforce and have a valid social security number are an appropriate fit.


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  • How difficult is it to open a STEP case?

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    A parent or guardian needs to sign the consent form for release of information. The vocational director will gather all other needed documents (i.e. IEP, psychological evaluation or any other pertinent documents). After all documents are signed, an intake meeting is scheduled with the DRS representative and students to discuss vocational interests and goals. After a student is determined eligible, the DRS caseworker will meet with him/her throughout the year and may participate in IEP meetings.


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  • When should I apply for STEP services?

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    Typically junior year of high school.


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  • Who should I contact if I am interested in being referred for services?

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    Diane Hindman, Vocational Director, Hopewell Academy at (815)463-9655 x 7501 or dhindman@hopewellschools.com.


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  • Can DRS provide assistance for college?

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    Yes. Students who are interested in taking college courses could be eligible for the DRS School Sponsorship. After you are a DRS client, you will need to submit the following documents to become eligible for financial assistance a minimum of 6 weeks prior to the semester start date:

    • College acceptance letter
    • Student aid report (entire FASFA report). You will need to submit this every year.
    • High school transcripts
    • Financial aid award letter from the intended college or university
    • Program information pertaining to major
    • Class schedule
    • Registration and cost
    • Booklist and cost
    • Accuplacer scores (if applicable)
    • ACT or SAT scores

    Students are required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average and submit grades to their DRS counselor at the end of each semester.

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