Updates on Illinois Legislation and Homes Services

An Advocacy Update from Amber Smock, Access Living’s Director of Advocacy. This alert covers recent vetoes by Governor Rauner, and the latest on the enforcement of rules in the Home Services Program.

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Today we want to focus on some important updates about home and community services.

First, Governor Rauner has vetoed several wage increase bills that would have increased wages to $15 an hour for Home Services Program (HSP) personal assistants and individual maintenance home health workers, Community Care Program (CCP) homemakers, and child care workers. We at Access Living feels that this action fails to recognize the vital importance of these workers to people with disabilities. These bills return to the legislature, where a 3/5 majority or supermajority will be required to override his vetoes.

The bills are:

• House Bill 5764 (CCP wages would have increased to $25 an hour over the next four years)

• Senate Bills 2536 (would have raised child care worker wages to $15 an hour retroactive to July 1, 2016---remember that many parents with disabilities rely on state funded child care services)

• Senate Bill 2931 (would have raised HSP worker wages to $15 an hour retroactive to July 1, 2016)

The wage increase bill for Direct Service Professionals (DSPs) serving people with developmental disabilities is still on the Governor’s desk. That bill is House Bill 5931, and several developmental disabilities groups are still pushing hard for this bill as many DSPs make as little as $9 an hour.

Second, Access Living is extremely concerned about HSP workers who have needed to work over 40 hours per work, and the HSP customers served by those workers. The first round of disciplinary “occurrence” letters for HSP workers who worked unjustified overtime went out after the first enforcement time period at the beginning of May, and over 2,000 workers received these notices. Our understanding is there was a suspension on occurrences for a time, but as soon as mid-August, some workers could be getting their third occurrence letter and notice of termination. This places at risk not only the workers in terms of job and income loss, but also it puts HSP customers with disabilities at possible serious risk of health crisis or nursing home placement.

Please contact Access Living if you are an HSP customer whose workers are at risk of more occurrence letter or termination. The best way to do this is to contact our Home and Community Ombudsmen Program at (312) 640-2152 or ombudsman@accessliving.org . Their hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm. While our Ombudsmen are tasked with advocacy for people with disabilities living in Chicago, they can answer questions and help make a referral to support in your area. It is very important to reach out if you think you may be at risk.

If you are an HSP worker, please check out SEIU HCII’s Member Resource Center at http://www.seiuhcilin.org/member-resource-center-2/ . If you are NOT a member of the union, please contact our Ombudsmen and we will answer our questions to the best of our ability.

Both HSP customers and HSP workers can also contact their local DRS office or the Springfield DRS office with questions. This is the contact info:

Springfield DRS Office
Rehabilitation Services
535 West Jefferson Street, 1st Floor
Springfield, IL 62702
Phone: (217) 782-4830
TTY: (888) 440-8990
Fax: (217) 524-0758

It is better to ask questions than to not know what is going on! So please, reach out and let us know if you are having problems.

Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy