Home Care Workers To See Slight Wage Increase Under New State Budget

Developmental Services Center

The Developmental Services Center in Champaign provides programs and services to adults and children with developmental disabilities.

Developmental Services Center

Under the new state budget, caregivers for people with disabilities will see an hourly wage increase of 50 cents an hour. 

The state-funded workers are known as direct service providers. They provide in-home care for people with disabilities, helping them dress, bathe, and perform other tasks.

Dale Morrissey is the CEO of the Developmental Services Center in Champaign. He said across the state, organizations like his have struggled for years with high staff turnover.

“It's tough work," Morrissey said. "It's very rewarding work, but it's tough work, to ask people to work at such low wages.”

Morrissey said average pay for direct service providers is about $10 an hour. Prior to last year’s 75 cent hourly wage increase, he said home care workers had not received a raise in ten years.

Meanwhile, staffing challenges have kept the DSC from opening the doors of a group home in Mahomet, meant to house four people with developmental disabilities.

Morrissey said the delay, which is going on two years, is the direct result of his organization's inability to recruit and retain direct service providers. Many workers leave for higher-paying jobs in other sectors.

“For the 11 homes we operate, for the last several months -- we’ve had a few people leave, a few come -- but we've been down about 12 staff positions,” Morrissey said.

Without adequate staff, Morrissey said they cannot safely open the group home.

Morrissey said the 50-cent hourly wage increase is small, but is a much-needed step in the right direction. Fundraising efforts and financial support from the United Way have enabled the DSC to continue operating through difficult financial times.

Similar organizations across the state have not been as fortunate, said Morrissey, is also chair of the board of directors for the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities.

A bill passed by the Illinois Senate earlier this year would increase wages to $15 an hour by 2021. The bill moved onto the House, but no action was taken before the end of the spring legislative session on May 31. Morrissey said the bill is essentially dead, but could be reintroduced in the next session if a person or organization decides to support it.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

Story source: WILL