OFFICE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES
The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Office of Women’s Health and Family Services envisions a future free of health disparities, where all Illinoisans have access to continuous high quality health care.
The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Office of Women’s Health and Family Services strives to improve health outcomes of all Illinoisans by providing preventative education and services, increasing health care access, using data to ensure evidence-based practice and policy, and empowering families.
Illinois ranks fifth in the nation in population, with 12.8 million people. In 2010, there were approximately 2.6 million women in Illinois who were of childbearing age (15-44 years). In 2014, there were 154,680 births in Illinois hospitals. Illinois has 102 counties of which 92 are rural.
The Office of Women’s Health and Family Services (OWHFS) is one of the six programmatic offices within the Illinois Department of Public Health. Formerly called the Office of Women’s Health, OWHFS’ responsibilities were expanded in July 2013 to include Maternal and Child Health Title V Block Grant. OWHFS’ expanded responsibilities include overseeing the health and services for women and girls throughout their lifespan as well as family services that address the health and well-being of pregnant women, infants, children and adolescents through Child and Adolescent Health, Perinatal Health and School Health Programs.
The office specifically addresses breast and cervical health, heart disease and lifestyle choices, teen pregnancy and subsequent pregnancy concerns, infant mortality, school health and family planning. The OWHFS’s Women’s Health-Line is a free and confidential resource available to all Illinois women with health related questions. This free and confidential resource can be accessed at (888) 522-1282.
The OWHFS administers the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) and the WISEWOMAN Program (IWP). The statewide IBCCP offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings to women between the ages of 35 and 64 who have low incomes and no health insurance. The IWP is offered in 13 counties in Illinois and is designed to help women enrolled in the IBCCP reduce their risk for heart disease and live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Referrals for either of these programs can be obtained by calling the Health-Line.
Funding opportunities can be found through various grants Education programs funded by the OWHFS are offered through local health departments, not-for-profit community agencies and schools. Grant opportunities include Teen Pregnancy Prevention, School Health, Family Planning and more.
The Penny Severns Breast, Cervical and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund is a special fund used for breast, cervical and ovarian cancer research grants. Grants support research in areas related to breast, cervical and ovarian cancer prevention, etiology, pathogenesis, early detection, treatment and behavioral sciences. Research may also include clinical trials. One-year grants are available with the possibility of two subsequent 12-month renewals. Distribution of grants are contingent upon the availability of funds and the nature of the application received.
The OWHFS also receives funds through the sale of Ticket for the Cure instant scratch off lottery tickets. OWHFS recognize that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and sometimes affects men, as well. Awareness and education regarding early detection needs to be increased in every community, especially for low income, underserved and uninsured women with special emphasis on reaching those who are geographically or culturally isolated, older and/or members of racial/ethnic minorities. The ticket for the Cure Community Grant Program is designed to address these needs.
Why Women’s Health?
Traditionally, medical education and research related to women's health have focused on reproductive health. Yet, today's women are living nearly half of their lives outside their reproductive years.
While living longer than men, women are not necessarily living better and are more vulnerable to certain chronic conditions like osteoporosis, thyroid disease and depression.
Women have unique medical needs because of their female physiology, reproductive ability and related hormonal influences. As a result, women demonstrate different symptoms for certain conditions and often respond to treatments differently than men.
Until recently, many studies on the detection, treatment and prevention of disease were conducted on men only. These results were generalized to women without proof that they applied to females in the same way.