Pre-pandemic, the All Our Kids (AOK) Early Childhood Network in Will County had piloted an online referral system for a dozen of our network service providers. Throughout 2020, and now into 2021, the Integrated Referral and Intake System, otherwise known as IRIS, has grown to more than 75 programs, and to date has made over 370 referrals for families that needed support services.
Any program, or agency, can become a part of this online portal. There is no cost to programs or agencies, and the project is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
The system can also provide data that can be shared with programs and communities to see where there might be gaps in services, or what services are being referred too often. Data can also be shared to assist in writing grants for these social service agencies. Partnerships within the Will County IRIS include schools, health department programs, the YMCA, counseling, medical, dental, and numerous social services. The goal is to ensure that families get what they need.
“Everyone had been thinking for over ten years about how to make online referrals to each other,” said Rebecca Deang, Community Health Educator for the Will County Health Department. “But as far as keeping up with HIPAA laws and assuring confidentiality, we didn’t find a way until now.” With the help of Illinois Department of Human Services and the collaboration with the University of Kansas, IRIS is being used in many communities across Illinois. This program is also beginning to grow in other communities across the country.