Illinois Needs More Funding for People with Disabilities


It is far past the time for all of us in the Legislature to finally do the right thing for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Our state ranks 49th in the nation in funding and assistance to the estimated 300,000 Illinoisians and their families with intellectual and developmental disabilities who deserve the opportunity to live safe, fulfilling and meaningful lives. Ranked in 49th out of 50 states—this is unconscionable. We are nowhere near funding enough local institutions to support those in need.

The legislative session is coming to an end, but the budget still feels like a black box to many. Disabled communities, i.e. families and caregivers, pay $4 an hour to frontline staff who perform a variety of tasks such as feeding, bathing, administering daily medications, and taking community home residents out and about. are making a very strong case for higher wages. Sadly, our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) can earn more by working in an Amazon warehouse or driving an Uber, but many are unable to provide for their own families. I had no choice but to make that choice.

In fact, we discovered that our beloved Illinois House page with autism earns more with supported employment than DSP ($17 per hour vs. $15.50 per hour) We were stunned.

Considering these disastrously low wages, it’s no wonder that Illinois’ community support system has been in a staffing crisis for years and consent statutes are not being followed. A $4 an hour increase will bring state-funded wages for these 24/7 hard but highly rewarding jobs to 150% of minimum wage. This wage increase is the main recommendation from the state’s own research into what is needed to stabilize community systems.

We recognize that the $4/hour increase is a challenge as we have thousands of pressing budget needs. But we must take responsibility for a community support system that is on the verge of collapse.

Failure to comply with consent decree, thousands on waiting list for services

Low-wage DSP workers are at the core of this system, with 87% of the workforce being women and 53% being people of color. Simply put, this is more than just an item in your budget. This funding decision will deeply affect people, families, frontline workers and their circles of support in every corner of Illinois.

For six years, the state has failed to comply with the Ligas Consent Order, which mandates the right to live in the community for persons with disabilities who live in their own homes or state-owned facilities. Community institutions hope to provide at least a living wage so that workers can meet their acute needs, but a lack of funding in the country has forced community homes to close, consolidate, and be unable to accept new clients. there is

Meanwhile, the waiting list for services stands at 14,933, with 5,548 currently eligible for community-based services and having nowhere to go.

Here is an obvious example. The state spent her $48 million to run the Choate Mental Health Development Center and now wants to relocate her more than 190 residents in state facilities to community living. Underfunded community homes do not have enough staff to accommodate more residents. It’s very easy to see what’s wrong with this photo, but we don’t fix it every year.

Good news. Never before has there been such widespread support among state legislators to provide adequate funding for community systems that support people with disabilities. We must work tirelessly to do so, and carry out this responsibility through the end of this week, including the Governor’s signing of the Budget, which includes this increased investment.

Thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the state and their families depend on quality support every day to live independent and vibrant lives. It is our duty as a nation to make it possible, and we are letting them down. Let this year be the year that changes that.

Rep. Lindsay Lapointe represents District 19. Representative Lakeshire Collins represents District 9. State Representative Nabeela Said represents District 51 and Celina Villanueva is State Senator representing District 12.

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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