IDES gets $6.8 million to address unemployment insurance gaps

Illinois Department of Employment Security logo

In order for Illinois to better understand and address equity gaps in its unemployment insurance system, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has awarded the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) $6.8 million. 

IDES will use the equity grant to fund four major equity projects using expanded data to identify potential problems in the unemployment pipeline within underrepresented groups. By using new demographic data and user insights, the department said it intends to refine unemployment insurance service delivery systems, processes, and communications for more equitable access and experience.

This includes making unemployment information easier to understand, translating information into multiple languages, expanding self-service digital options, and increasing outreach to community-level organizations.

“The work continues, and this grant opportunity will allow IDES to develop the data necessary to make targeted investments to promote equity in our state’s UI system and ensure eligible individuals have access to benefits.” IDES Director Kristin Richards said in a news release.

In addition to the equity grant, Illinois is working closely with the U.S. DOL to use additional federal resources provided to states through a Tiger Team engagement intended to assist with fraud prevention and detection, benefit timeliness and claims management, and equitable access to UI services.

“Since 2019, Governor (J.B.) Pritzker’s administration has supported IDES in its efforts to improve services to individuals with limited English proficiency and other barriers to access,” as added by Ms. Richards. 

The U.S. DOL announced in August of 2021 the funding opportunity, provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, for states to expand outreach, promote awareness, improve technology, streamline instructions, provide translation services, increase staffing, and address other accessibility issues in marginalized communities. 

Illinois is among 27 other states and the District of Columbia who have been awarded more than $150 million in equity grants.

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.