Welcome to The Care Campaign, a coalition of service providers, direct support workers and their unions, associations and individuals formed in January 2013 to raise wages of direct care workers in Illinois.
We hope you’ll join us to help win a living wage for the dedicated people who support those with developmental disabilities. This is important quality of life work performed by women and men who work hard caring for some of the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens.
How you can help:
- Sign the petition!
- Download, Print & Circulate Wages Fact Sheet
- Read about The Care Campaign’s launch in Springfield with Senate and House Hearings and Lobby Days.
- Like us on Facebook & Share our messages
Why The Care Campaign?
The Care Campaign is a historic coming together of providers, associations, workers and their unions, parents, administrators, caregivers, people with disabilities, and other Illinois citizens. Never before have so many concerned groups and individuals come together around this important issue. We are concerned and we are committed to making a difference for the thousands of direct service professionals in Illinois who tirelessly work to care for our fellow citizens with developmental and other disabilities.
In Illinois there are some 24,000 individuals with developmental disabilities supported in community settings. The problem is that many of the direct support employees who provide that support don’t earn enough to even support their own families. We don’t believe that it is right to pay so little for people who give so much.
Direct support workers in Illinois earn wages below the poverty level.
A recent IARF (Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities) salary survey pegged the average direct support wage in Illinois at $9.35 per hour. That’s 21% below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty threshold of $11.32 for a family of four. This largely female workforce is often forced to work many overtime hours or even hold down a second job just to make ends meet. Many of these workers and their families have to fall back on public benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps, creating additional expenditures for state government. See the Arc of Illinois Position Paper on (DSPs) Direct Support Professionals
No Cost of Doing Business Increase for community providers since 2007.
Low wages are a consequence of the historically low reimbursement rates for community services. According to the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities report, Illinois ranks 41st of 50 in fiscal effort for these services. The General Assembly has not awarded a Cost of Doing Business Increase to community developmental disability agencies since 2007. Over the last 10 fiscal years, increases in state funding to these agencies have averaged less than 1% per year, for a total of 9.5%. By contrast, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) increased 23% over the same period. Community agencies were forced to cover increases in health insurance, fuel, and other costs from the small rate increases, while wages fell even further behind.
Low pay drives high staff turnover.
The lack of adequate wages for employees who perform the challenging work of supporting individuals with disabilities results in high employee turnover, which in turn, negatively impacts the quality of services provided. In 2008, the ARC of the United States documented annual turnover rates among direct support staff of 35% to 70%. According to a 2007 study, the national turnover rate averages 50% (Hewitt and Larson, 2007). Higher wages are proven to reduce staff turnover, improving stability and quality of services while reducing employer training costs.
The Care Campaign solution.
The Care Campaign proposes increases in reimbursement rates linked directly to increases in direct support staff wages. The goal is to increase those wages to $13 at minimum. To achieve this goal, The Care Campaign supports Senate Bill 2604, sponsored by Senators Heather Steans and Mattie Hunter, Daniel Biss, Julie Morrison and House Bill 3698, sponsored by Representatives Robyn Gabel, Lawrence M. Walsh, Jr., Emanuel Chris Welch, and Laura Fine.
This goal is a modest increase for an individual worker but significant for retaining a quality workforce to serve those with disabilities, helping to reduce turnover and providing a more consistent and supportive environment for those we serve. It will reduce reliance on public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid while enhancing dignity and self-worth for the thousands who annually go over and above every day of the year to provide exceptional personal services to make life better for people with developmental disabilities.
You can help by signing the petition and spreading the word by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Stand with The Care Campaign to show that the citizens of Illinois care about those with disabilities and want a living wage for those who daily work to make life better for them.