People with disabilities deserve more in Illinois

In 2017, the They Deserve More Coalition was formed to ensure people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the state get the services they deserve…by fighting for better wages for direct support professionals (DSPs) who care for them.

On July 6, our state leaders came through with an annual budget that provided a 75-cent-per-hour raise for these workers. While this raise was a step in the right direction, wages reimbursed by the state are still below poverty level, and much more is needed to ensure that our state’s people with disabilities have access to the quality care they deserve.

Over the past several decades, thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities have moved from their family homes, foster homes or state institutions into group homes, where they have been able to achieve more productive and fulfilling lives. Many participate in employment and day training programs to build skills and become part of the mainstream of society. But they must have support and assistance for everything from eating, bathing and administering medication to job and life-skills training like money anagement, meal preparation and reading.

People with disabilities are suffering


Rate at which some agencies are understaffed; a dangerous gap


Turnover rate of direct support professionals in Illinois in the last year based on a national survey


Of 80 agencies that responded to a statewide survey closed program sites in the last year


Children and adults with developmental disabilities who depend on services

Hundreds of Thousands

Parents, siblings, family members of children and adults with developmental disabilities who rely on DSPs to care for and support their loved ones

That support comes from DSPs whose starting wages, on average, are now $10.59 per hour. Illinois state funding for wages is among the worst in the country!

Could you support your family on that pay? Could you even support yourself?

We now call on state leaders to follow through on their intention to make the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities a priority. We seek a raise to $13.50 per hour in 2018, and a ramp up to $15 per hour in 2020.

Illinois is behind

Illinois’ rank among states for spending commitment for people with disabilities


Wage increase that direct support professionals received in this year’s state budget – first such increase in ten years


Cumulative rate of inflation over the last ten years

Thousands of these positions go unfilled every year, and DSPs are leaving their jobs in droves to take retail, warehouse and fast food positions – just to make ends meet. Caring, compassionate people who want to do this important work simply cannot afford to

This leaves children and adults with disabilities and their families facing constant change and uncertainty, missing doctor’s appointments, and unable to participate in quality-of-life activities like jobs, volunteer opportunities, learning and recreational activities...unable to be full members of the community.

And worse – it is dangerous, even life-threatening. Agencies throughout the state are understaffed, which can lead to terrible, preventable tragedies like choking and accidents when there are simply not enough eyes or hands on staff. Agencies across the state are shutting down programs and turning people away who need and deserve support.

People with disabilities deserve more – they need caregivers who earn a living wage.

DSP wages are not competitive