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NEWS – Care Campaign in Springfield for Hearings & Lobby Days

Care Campaign launches with State Capitol hearings, lobby days

The Care Campaign launched with important momentum in the State Capitol on May 15-16, testifying at legislative hearings, lobbying lawmakers and gaining strong media coverage.

To carry that momentum forward, call your legislators right away at 888-912-5959. Tell them to include a $1 hourly wage increase for direct-support workers in the FY 14 budget that’s being developed now.

More than 100 direct support workers, family members of individuals with developmental disabilities and administrators from community-based provider agencies made the trip to Springfield.

They personally lobbied legislators in the halls of the State Capitol and testified before the House and Senate human services committees. They urged lawmakers to raise wages that now average just $9.35 an hour—well below the poverty level for a family of four. Such low wages lead to high employee turnover, diminishing quality of care for individuals who have difficulty adapting to change.

The Care Campaign’s first step is to raise wages by just $1 an hour. The effort is led in the Illinois Senate by Toi Hutchinson. “Our funding for these services ranks near the bottom,” Hutchinson said. “It’s not something Illinois should be proud of.”

We need more supporters in the state senate and house. Call 888-912-5959 to urge your legislators to support a $1 an hour increase for direct-support workers in the FY 14 budget.

Check out news coverage from WCIA-TV:

People from all over are promoting the Care Campaign. They say direct support workers provide an
important service and should be compensated fairly.

In this packed committee hearing, you’ll find Colleen Clifford. She’s waiting for her chance to talk to
lawmakers. She’d like caregivers to get pay raises.

“They’re very hard to replace and they need to be appreciated. This is a great way to keep a good
team together.”

Her son lives in Little City, near Palatine, a residential center for people with developmental disabilities.

And more from the State Journal-Register:

Hope Institute often experiences high turnover rates because of the low wages, said Yolanda Woods,
who’s worked at the Springfield-based institution for 17 years.

Woods, who’s also president of ASCFME Local 2481, said most of the employees she supervises start out at the “bottom of the totem pole.”

“These people can go to Wal-Mart or McDonald’s and make about the same amount of money, and that’s kind of crazy,” Woods said. “We have a high turnover rate, so we have training classes every three weeks. Six months later and you’ll be lucky to have three of four of those people still there… It’s just a revolving door.”

As an education specialist at Hope Institute, Shatriya Smith, of Springfield said, “I love working here at Hope. If I didn’t have to pay a mortgage, I would work there for free. I have to pay for gas, insurance, and other needs. It gets really ridiculous when every other pay period you have to find out where extra money is coming from to meet your needs.”

Please call your senator and representative at 888-912-5959. The call is easy, fast and free. Tell your legislators to support a $1 an hour increase for direct-support workers in the FY 14 budget.