IPADDUnite Press Release
Illinois Parents of Adults with Developmental Disabilities Unite | IPADDUnite.org |
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governor Rauner Proclaims DSP Jobs “Vital”, Then Two Days Later Vetoes Wage Bill
Individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and allies expressed outrage and disbelief today after learning that two days before vetoing HB5931, the bill designed to raise wages of essential Direct Support workers from $9.35 to $15/hour, Governor Rauner signed a Proclamation designating the week of September 11-17, 2016 as DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS RECOGNITION WEEK in Illinois, “to recognize the dedication and vital role of DSPs in enhancing the lives of individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities.”
What the proclamation failed to mention is that in Illinois, these vital community employees are paid a measly $9.35/hour to care for vulnerable citizens who depend on them for meals, medication, intimate personal care like bathing, toileting, and dressing, skills training, behavior and communication support, transportation and personal safety.
“Our 27-year old daughter with severe autism waited 4 months for her agency to hire a replacement after her group home staff resigned last fall,” said Laurie Jerue of Naperville. “During that time, there were four or five different people coming into the home each week, throwing Sarah's extreme need for sameness and routine out the window, resulting in sharp increases in maladaptive behaviors she has yet to recover from. And the staff working those extra shifts, they tried their best, but were exhausted because they were already working overtime with other clients to fill holes in other agency homes.”
Against a backdrop of extreme burnout from chronic overtime, skyrocketing turnover and training costs, and 30% vacancies in group homes or day programs, Illinois’ aging parents and adult siblings who care for loved ones with developmental disabilities are terrified of the future.
Advocates worked tirelessly during the last legislative session to raise awareness about wage inequities between similar unionized workers in state-run institutions (earning between $14-24/hour) and others who perform similar jobs for people with physical disabilities ($13-16/hour).
“We thought it seemed fair to seek increases to $15/hour for our workforce” notes Ellen Bronfeld of Skokie, adding “Unlike workers in state institutions or the Home Services Program, who directly negotiate wages with the state through their labor unions, our DSPs are employees of community not-for-profits who contract with the state. And for at least the past 8 years, the state has failed to raise rates a dime. How can the Governor proclaim on a Wednesday that these jobs are “vital” but then two days later say “we don’t have a way to pay these vital workers more than poverty-level wages”? It makes no sense.”
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Started ten years ago by two mothers, IPADDUnite is an online forum for IL families of adults with I/DDs and allies, promoting information, news and advocacy around community living issues and opportunities.