Gaillen Roberts is the live in personal assistant for her 34-year old daughter Jody. Jody is enrolled in the Illinois Home Services Program, through which she receives just less than 60 hours a week in personal assistant services. Jody and Gaillen are just one household of thousands across Illinois that will be impacted by the Illinois implementation guidelines of U.S. Department of Labor Overtime Rules. Under the new rules, personal assistants will be paid overtime for more than 40 hours a week of services. While overtime is an incentive that will potentially strengthen the pool of personal assistants, the Illinois implementation guidelines are creating problems. Under the new guidelines, which will be enforced on March 1, the state will cap hours at 40, and will only allow a few exceptions for overtime. Also, if a person with a disability in the program receives more than 35 hours a month in services and works with just one personal assistant, he or she will be forced to hire additional personal assistants.
A photo of the Roberts Family, one of many that will be impacted by the implementation guidelines of new overtime rules.
The Roberts live in Cameron, an unincorporated community in west-central Illinois. In an email, Gaillen shared why Illinois’ plan to implement the overtime rules will create problems, threatening the independence of her daughter Jody and the stability of the family.
This is problematic for a couple of reasons with having to have someone else work the hours. My daughter is a 34 year old quad in a power chair. She has a water bed and is a manual lift/transfer from bed to chair. She weighs approximately 115 pounds. This transfer is not easy for just anyone nor would it be safe. A man could do it but then next issue is her privacy, to who is taking care of her intimate personal needs . . . Where we live is out in the country and on a hill . . . wet, muddy or snow and unless you have 4x4 you won’t get in here.
Her main care times are morning and evening for dressing, feeding, etc. . . so that creates a split shift care schedule. No one wants to drive out in the sticks to do split shifts. Most PA's want full time positions not part time and split.
Then we have the intrusions to a minor child and a 20 year old who are members of the household along with myself.
It’s also taking away from my budget that allows me to keep our home so that my daughter has a place to live. She is a 24 hour care, and I cannot be here to care for her and work another job. If I can’t keep my home she will face possible placement creating more debt than the DRS cost.
This is whole thing is taking away from her choices to where to live or how to live as well as who she wants to take care of her.
Gaillen, Jody, and the Roberts family are just one example of the thousands of people across Illinois who will be impacted by the implementation guidelines. Rather than move forward on March 1, the date the new rules will be enforced, Illinois should take a step back, listen to the concerns of people in the program, and develop guidelines that work for personal assistants, people with disabilities and Illinois.