Okay folks we need to step it up! We have had two Regional Meetings on the DSP Crisis with decent but limited attendance. We can do better!

I am please to report that over 2,500 witness slips have been submitted to support the DSP Wage Legislation!

It is time to submit the Data Requested from ICF and CILA Providers Regarding Rates if you haven’t already done so.

Today and tomorrow in the Capitol legislators, people with disabilities, families, providers, AFSCME and the State Associations will provide testimony and talk to the media. You need to do the same in your local areas with similar coalitions.

Read our press release below.

Here is a new tool in our fight to increase DSP wages. Clearbrook and Ray Graham collaborated with AFSCME to put this video together.  Please post it on your social media pages: DSP Video.

Tony

Coalition of Disability Advocates Call for Immediate Action to Address Statewide Staffing Crisis

(Springfield, IL) — A wide ranging coalition of groups from across the state of Illinois joined together today in support of HB 5931 (Gabel) and SB 2952 (Steans) to raise the wages of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).  Urgent action is required to address a growing workforce crisis which led recently to the state being declared in non-compliance with its legal responsibilities to provide adequate care and support to people with developmental disabilities.

“The average Direct Support Professional in Illinois earns less than $10 per hour, and nearly half rely on some form of additional public benefits despite holding full-time, demanding jobs,” said Janet Stover, President and CEO of the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities.  “When you consider that successful DSP applicants must meet rigorous employment requirements and perform physically demanding and emotionally draining work, it’s not surprising that we struggle to hire and retain staff.”

Stover added, “It’s tragic for people with disabilities, their families, and providers to continually lose dedicated and qualified staff to less demanding and better paying jobs in other service sectors of the economy.  For many of the people served, losing a support professional is like losing a member of the family.”

The crisis facing this community is so great that on January 7, 2016, a federal monitor found the State of Illinois non-compliant with the Ligas Consent Decree, a court order which ensures access to community care for individuals with developmental disabilities. The monitor found that community agencies’ inability to hire DSPs had decreased service quality and slowed the development of new services and supports.

In response, State Senator Heather Steans and Representative Robyn Gabel have introduced HB 5931 (Gabel) and SB 2952 (Steans) to increase starting wages of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to $15.00 per hour. Both bills are due for a vote this week.

“It has been eight years since the Illinois legislature increased Medicaid rates for these services, even though inflation grew at 14% during that period,” said Sen. Steans, one of the sponsors of the legislation.  “Years of insufficient state funding without any rate increases has resulted in unacceptable wages for DSPs.  We can no longer afford not to act.”

Rep Gabel added, “Committed people who want to dedicate their lives to serving others simply cannot afford to consider becoming a DSP as a viable employment option. This foolish policy has led to unsustainable vacancy and turn-over rates in excess of 30%.”

In Illinois, over 27,000 people with developmental disabilities live in apartments, group homes and other residential programs. They learn in community-based centers and specialized programs. They volunteer and work in satisfying and productive jobs that benefit their communities.  The Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) in community agencies provide the foundation for community living. They ensure the health, safety and well-being of people with developmental disabilities by providing daily personal care, teaching life skills, and supporting people to be actively engaged and working in their community.

“Without a doubt the key to a successful life for people with disabilities is a compassionate, well trained staff,” said Tony Paulauski, Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois.  “Everyone can live a full life in the community with essential supports. This legislation is critical to the disability system and the people we support.”

The coalition calling for action today includes The Arc of Illinois, the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, AFSCME Council 31, Don Moss & Associates, The Center for Developmental Disabilities Advocacy & Community Support, The Institute on Public Policy for People with Developmental Disabilities and McManus Consulting.

 

tony signature
Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
 
Tony@thearcofil.org