Welcome to The Care Campaign, a coalition of service providers, direct support workers and
their unions, associations and individuals formed in January 2013 to raise wages of direct care
workers in Illinois.
We hope you’ll join us to help win a living wage for the dedicated people who support those with
developmental disabilities. This is important quality of life work performed by women and men who
work hard caring for some of the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens.
The Care Campaign is a historic coming together of providers, associations, workers and their
unions, parents, administrators, caregivers, people with disabilities, and other Illinois citizens.
Never before have so many concerned groups and individuals come together around this
important issue. We are concerned and we are committed to making a difference for the
thousands of direct service professionals in Illinois who tirelessly work to care for our fellow
citizens with developmental and other disabilities.
In Illinois there are some 24,000 individuals with developmental disabilities supported in
community settings. The problem is that many of the direct support employees who provide
that support don’t earn enough to even support their own families. We don’t believe that it is
right to pay so little for people who give so much.
Direct support workers in Illinois earn wages below the poverty level.
A recent IARF (Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities) salary survey pegged the average
direct support wage in Illinois at $9.35 per hour. That’s 21% below the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services poverty threshold of $11.32 for a family of four. This largely female
workforce is often forced to work many overtime hours or even hold down a second job just to
make ends meet. Many of these workers and their families have to fall back on public benefits
such as Medicaid and food stamps, creating additional expenditures for state government. See the Arc of Illinois Position Paper on (DSPs) Direct Support Professionals
No Cost of Doing Business Increase for community providers since
Low wages are a consequence of the historically low reimbursement rates for community services.
According to the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities report,Illinois ranks 41st of 50 in
fiscal effort for these services. The General Assembly has not awarded a Cost of Doing Business
Increase to community developmental disability agencies since 2007. Over the last 10 fiscal years,
increases in state funding to these agencies have averaged less than 1% per year, for a total of
9.5%. By contrast, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) increased 23% over the same period.
Community agencies were forced to cover increases in health insurance, fuel, and other costs from
the small rate increases, while wages fell even further behind.
Low pay drives high staff turnover.
The lack of adequate wages for employees who perform the challenging work of supporting
individuals with disabilities results in high employee turnover, which in turn, negatively impacts the
quality of services provided. In 2008, The Arc of the United States documented annual turnover
rates among direct support staff of 35% to 70%. According to a 2007 study, the national turnover
rate averages 50% (Hewitt and Larson, 2007). Higher wages are proven to reduce staff turnover,
improving stability and quality of services while reducing employer training costs.
The Care Campaign solution.
The Care Campaign proposes increases in reimbursement rates linked directly to increases in
direct support staff wages. The goal is to increase those wages to $13 at minimum. To achieve
this goal, The Care Campaign supports Senate Bill 2604, sponsored by Senators Heather Steans
and Mattie Hunter, Daniel Biss, Julie Morrison and House Bill 3698, sponsored byRepresentatives
Robyn Gabel, Lawrence M. Walsh, Jr., Emanuel Chris Welch, and Laura Fine.
This goal is a modest increase for an individual worker but significant for retaining a quality
workforce to serve those with disabilities, helping to reduce turnover and providing a more
consistent and supportive environment for those we serve. It will reduce reliance on public benefits
such as food stamps and Medicaid while enhancing dignity and self-worth for the thousands who
annually go over and above every day of the year to provide exceptional personal services to make
life better for people with developmental disabilities.
You can help by signing the petition and spreading the word by liking us on Facebook and following
us on Twitter. Stand with The Care Campaign to show that the citizens of Illinois care about those
with disabilities and want a living wage for those who daily work to make life better for them.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423