SAVE DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY SERVICES - SUPPORT A LIVING WAGE FOR DSPS
SUPPORT Senate Bill 2952 (Steans) / House Bill 5931 (Gabel)
In Illinois, more than 27,000 individuals with intellectual and
developmental disabilities rely on Direct Support Professionals (DSPs – also
known as Direct Support Persons) for supports from daily personal care
(eating, grooming, and dressing) to teaching essential skills and attending
to complex medical needs. On January 7, 2016 a federal court monitor found
the State of Illinois non-compliant with the Ligas Consent Decree, a federal
court order that ensures access to community care for individuals with
intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The average wage for DSPs is $9.35/hr, or $19,488 a year, less than the
federal poverty level for a family of three. Poverty wages mean nearly half
of Illinois DSPs rely on some form of public benefits, despite working full
State payments to support individuals in the community have not increased in
nearly a decade. By contrast, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased
14% over the same time period.
The lack of a living wage for DSPs results in high employee turnover,
creating cruel upheaval in the lives of those who most need a stable
workforce. Rising wages in competing sectors now mean, despite strenuous
efforts to recruit new workers, agencies are experiencing staff vacancy
rates of up to 30%.
There was a statewide campaign
to submit witness slips supporting SB 2952 and HB 5931 that would raise DSP
salaries to $15 an hour. On April 12, 2016 SB 2952,
backed by 3,531 witness slips in support of
the bill, lead to the Committee passing the bill to the full Senate
floor by a vote of 6-1-0. On April 13, 2016 - HB 5931
backed by 2,492 witness slips in support of
the bill was approved by the Committee by a vote of 11-8-0.
By April 22, it
is looking increasingly unlikely that the House will take up the DSP living
wage legislation (HB
5931). Since indications were made on Tuesday that the bill
would be called for a vote this week, the state agencies have filed the
requested fiscal notes on the bill. There is a good chance any movement on
the bill will need to wait until after the upcoming one week break.
bill movement, it was another incredible week of advocacy as email messages
and phone calls in support of the bill came pouring into the Statehouse
offices. Both Representative Gabel AND Senator Steans have been pleased
with the outpouring of support for the initiative. This week alone the
House bill picked up five additional co-sponsors in the House. IARF would
like to thank Leader Barbara Currie and Representatives Will Guzzardi,
Andre Thapedi, Litesa Wallace, and Larry Walsh for co-sponsoring HB 5931.