Support Statewide Efforts to Assure that People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Have a Stable Direct Support Workforce
Why are Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) Important?
In McHenry County, there are more than 5,200 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These individuals depend on Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to assist them in many areas such as learning essential new skills, going places in the community, attending to personal care needs (including eating, grooming and dressing) and attending to complex medical needs . DSPs are often the most important people outside of family and close friends in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Why Do We Need HB 5931?
Community agencies across Illinois that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are struggling to hire and retain DSPs because they cannot pay a competitive wage. The State of Illinois decides how much they will pay agencies to hire DSPs and they have not given a raise in 8 years. Many people who would like to become direct support staff cannot afford to work for the wage the state pays and instead, take jobs doing other things where they can make more money.
The lack of a living wage for DSPs results in high employee turnover which in turn creates upheaval in the lives of those who most need a stable workforce. Rising wages in competing sectors also means that despite strenuous efforts to recruit new workers, agencies are experiencing staff vacancy rates of up to 30%. In addition, providers like Pioneer Center are relying more on overtime to cover shifts, leading to staff burnout and driving up costs.
Why Should I Support the Campaign?
The Illinois General Assembly passed HB 5931 because they recognized the value of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and wanted to make sure there were enough direct support staff to work with them. Governor Rauner vetoed this crucial bill. We have a chance to overturn the Governor’s veto and force the state to pay community agencies enough so they can hire and retain enough direct support staff.
Who Should I Contact About the Campaign?
The most important thing you can do is to let the people who represent you in Springfield know that this is an important issue for you, and make sure that everyone that cares about you or your family member makes their voice heard as well. The people who will be voting on whether to override the Governor’s veto are your State Representative and State Senator. These are the people you elect to represent you in Springfield and they need to know how you and others that elect them feel about this issue.
Many state lawmakers publish an email address in addition to other contact information the Illinois General Assembly website. Go to the list of lawmakers by chamber, then click on the lawmakers’ names for their information.
If you don’t know who your state legislators are, you can find out using this website:
Where Can I Learn More About the Campaign and Connect to Others Who Are Involved?
The below links will give you more information on this important campaign and connect you to others across the state who feel the same way you do on this issue.