Direct support personnel may soon see a wage increase now that Senate Bill 955, sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), was passed out of committee today. Senate Bill 955 requires the Department of Human Services to increase wages so that direct support personnel earn a minimum wage of $15 per hour.
“For many caregivers that work with developmentally disabled individuals, their work is a labor of love,” Steans said. “Front-line personnel and direct support professionals, have mentally, physically and emotionally taxing jobs that provide a great service to our communities. Many of them have struggled financially for too long because they have not been paid a living wage.”
Currently direct support workers earn a starting wage of $9.30 and have not seen a raise in nearly a decade. Illinois direct support personnel receive some of the lowest rates in the nation for this type of work. Low starting wages has made attracting and retaining qualified staff challenging, and has led to vacancy rates around 25 percent.
“Increasing wages for front-line personnel will not only help the workers and their families, but it will also lower vacancy rates and lead to better service for developmentally disabled individuals overall,” Steans said. “I am excited to sponsor this important legislation and work towards finally getting direct support workers a wage that is reflective of the challenges they face at work.”
SB 955 now moves to a second reading.