Action Needed: Value the Work DSP Campaign
Dear Friends of Search,
As you know, the ongoing state budget impasse has hurt vulnerable people throughout Illinois including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, people living with mental illness and seniors. Now, amidst the worst budget outlook community providers have ever had to face, we find ourselves confronting an even more urgent problem, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) workforce crisis.
Our DSPs support the individuals we serve in all aspects of their daily lives. DSPs are responsible for the health, safety and well-being of the people they support. They empower persons with disabilities to live full, meaningful and active lives in their communities. Yet, for the last 15 years, reimbursement rates from the state for the DSP wage have risen just $.79/hour. Caring people who want to dedicate their lives to serving others simply cannot afford to consider direct service work as a viable employment option.
This foolish policy has led to historically high vacancy and turn-over rates in excess of 30%, and is the key reason that the state was recently found to be in non-compliance with binding court orders to provide adequate care to the communities DSPs serve.
State policy makers have turned a blind eye to the fact that persons with disabilities are being supported by highly skilled staff working at poverty-level wages. This refusal to value the work of DSPs has led to the crisis we face today, and threatens the core of the entire system of care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Illinois.
That is why Search has joined a state-wide coalition of organizations demanding solutions in the form of a substantial raise in state reimbursement rates so that we can pay a living wage to our DSPs. Join the campaign to urge our leaders in Springfield to Value their Lives - Value the Work and Raise the Wage for Direct Support Professionals.
We need your help.
• Join our online community – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – for weekly updates and more ways to support the Value their Lives - Value the Work and Raise the Wage for Direct Support Professionals campaign.
• Spread the word about the need for a living wage for DSPs among your personal and professional networks. Inspire your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to do the same.
• Contact your local legislators to urge their support for House Bill 5931 and Senate Bill 2952. This legislation provides that direct service persons will earn a base wage of no less than $15/hr. Many thanks to Senator Heather Steans and Representative Robyn Gabel for sponsoring these bills and their leadership on this issue.
In the coming weeks you will be hearing from us about more ways that you can become involved and take action on this very important issue.
We can't wait any longer for a solution. The time to act is now.
John Lipscomb Beth Valukas
CEO, Search, Inc. Executive Director, Search, Inc.
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