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posted: 5/29/2013 5:00 AM

Raise wages to help the disabled

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Clearbrook and Little City are leading partners in the creation of the Care Campaign, a unique collaboration of community-based human service agencies, families, caregivers and their unions. Together, we share the goal to raise the wages of direct care workers in an effort to provide better care for individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.

The average wage for a direct support worker in Illinois is now just $9.95/hour -- well below the poverty level for a family of four! Such low wages lead to high employee turnover and the loss of relationships and continuity of services so valued by families and the direct care workers who depend on us. This financial impact is destructive to families as working parents struggle to make ends meet and the personal impact on our clients as direct care staff are forced to leave their jobs is immeasurable.

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The Care Campaign's first step is to raise wages by $1 an hour in the FY14 budget that is being decided now by the Illinois legislature. We are asking the support of the readers of the Daily Herald to pick up their phone and call (888) 912-5959 immediately. Please tell your elected state leaders to "include a $1 hourly wage increase for direct-support workers in the FY14 budget." Don't let those who represent us deny a modest increase to the people who provide a vital service to those who need it most. Carl M. La Mell

Evanston

Clearbrook president

Shawn E. Jeffers

St. Charles

Little City Foundation executive director

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