Last week The Arc had an excellent with the other State Associations on the crisis now confronting community supports/services the recruitment and retention of staff. We are now at a point after ten years of only one increase in community rates our wages are no longer competitive in the community. It is not unusual for community service organizations to have 20-25% vacancy rates. The Associations agreed to work together in a statewide effort to raise the starting wage for direct care professionals to a living wage of $15.00 per hour. We will be meeting later this week to discuss common strategies and goals.
Also last week, Phil and I met with members of Senate President Cullerton’s staff to discuss The Arc’s Legislative Agenda for Fiscal Year 2016.
The following was shared and discussed.
The Arc’s Legislative Agenda for 2016 will include, but not be limited to, the following:
Budget & Revenue
This is an ongoing process each year. The Arc supports a responsible budget including new revenue and an increase in the state’s income tax. A responsible budget will include resources to support community living and maintain a stable workforce. Currently The Arc supports Senate Bill 2046 which is the only budget bill alive.
Staff Recruitment & Retention
The Arc will continue to advocate for increasing wages and benefits of Direct Care Professionals with the Care Campaign and other Associations.
We continue to advocate for an end to the waiting list, closure of State developmental centers, implementation of the Ligas Consent Decree and the transition of people into the community. Savings on institutional closures must be redirected into community services.
Criminal System and People with ID/DD
We will work on legislation dealing with the treatment of persons with DD and ID in the corrections and criminal justice systems and police training. We are considering the creation of a task force as a first step to working with various stakeholders such as States Attorneys, Public Defenders, Judges, Sheriffs, and DHS. We are talking with the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission about working on this jointly. The Dept. of Human Services is also looking into its forensic placement practices.
We will be working with the Governor’s Employment Task Force to implement Employment First. We are also considering the new requirements of the Workforce Innovations law recently signed by President Obama. We may consider a bill that incorporates some of its requirements into Illinois law, especially with respect to preparation of youth for integrated competitive employment.
We will continue to oppose Phase III Integrated Care Program, the managed care of developmental disability services.
We will work with the Illinois Assistive Technology Project and the Coleman Institute on a legislative resolution on the rights of people with cognitive disabilities to technology and information access.
We are concerned about possible changes in state special education mandates and special education cuts in Chicago.
In addition, we will work on national disability advocacy issues with The Arc of the United States.
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423