Support providers need competitive wage

As communities throughout the state begin returning to normal, it is vital we do not leave behind people with developmental disabilities. A growing funding shortfall has dropped Illinois to 47th in the nation when it comes to funding services and programs that empower and support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

That trend is in danger of becoming worse if policymakers do not take action to ensure Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) can earn competitive wages - especially as employers throughout the Chicagoland area meet a new increased minimum wage.

During the pandemic, DSPs have been the lifeline for people with developmental disabilities. At Little City, which serves more than 1,100 people through the Chicagoland area, DSPs like David Kim willingly quarantined with COVID-positive residents to make sure their needs could be met. The round-the-clock shift lasted 17 days and allowed the resident to stay safe, engaged and supported during a time he would have otherwise been isolated.

There are numerous stories like David's where DSPs went far beyond anything they could have imagined before COVID-19 upended our daily lives. As we move forward, we must bring people with developmental disabilities and those who support them with us.

An independent study identified funding priorities that would provide appropriate care for people with disabilities. Policymakers can fund those priorities and take advantage of a federal match, which would ensure more tax dollars come back to Illinois. It is time to demonstrate Illinois is a state that cares for those with disabilities.

Jayne Drew, Chief Development Officer at Little City


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