Family speaks out against stringent overtime guidelines in Illinois

Deborah Teixeira is the mother of an adult daughter with an acquired disability. She and her family live in Chillicothe, near the Illinois River in Peoria County, Illinois. Deborah is the live in personal assistant for her daughter, who receives 63 hours of personal assistant services per week under the Illinois Home Services Program. According to Deborah, the family’s “utmost goal is her happiness and well-being.”

image of young woman in a house, where red sweater. The woman has dark hair and is wearing glasses.

Deborah and her family are worried about Illinois’ plan to implement the new Department of Labor Overtime Rules. The new rules require that personal assistants are paid overtime. While overtime is an incentive that could strengthen the pool of personal assistants in Illinois, the Illinois implementation plan caps hours at 40 a week, and require consumers with plans that have more than 35 hours a week to hire additional personal assistants.

The new rules force families such as the Teixeira’s to bring new people into the home who may not be familiar with the specific care of a consumer. Under the new implementation guidelines, Deborah’s husband will fulfill the duties of the second personal assistant, and another family member will be the back-up personal assistant in the case of emergencies. While at this point, the Teixeira family can cover all of the service plan, Deborah says that might not always be the case, and she knows of others who will be forced to hire new people by March 1.

Talking about the new implementation guidelines, Deborah said:

I have friends who are single and have for many years, decades, chosen to give up their singular lives to care for their loved one. They do not have a built in second caregiver. We are all self-taught and trained specialists in the field of disability care. More importantly we are specialists at love, shelter, devotion, advocacy and at times and in some cases, forgiveness. We have all the attributes those with a disability would want in a caregiver . . . Why would the state place a second caregiver into the privacy of our home? It is well established that home care provision costs the state less money than a nursing home or institutional care.

The new implementation guidelines contradict consumer control and choices, one of the most important principles of the Illinois Services Home Services Program. The new guidelines force individuals to hire new people even if they would prefer not to.

“This is about my daughter feeling confident that she is part of our daily living,” Deborah said. “It is about her right to choose where she goes and with whom. It's about her dignity . . . She has been told for years on end that she has the right to make personal decisions for herself. Now the state is saying no. So does she have the right to choose for herself how she is taken care of and by whom? If not, why not?”

Deborah represents just one person of the thousands 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, Deborah urges the state to take a step back, and listen to the concerns of people in the program. “Please if you can, stop this forward moving disaster,” she said. “Please try to convince the state to take a critical look at the consequences of their decisions.”