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 court monitor’s findings stemmed from a meeting with 68 community providers from around the state.
DSP WORKFORCE CRISIS IN ILLINOIS…
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.
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 time.
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%.
The Agency is relying more on overtime to cover shifts, leading to staff burnout and driving up costs. In some cases, shifts can’t be covered, putting individuals at risk!