Access Living Advocacy Alert

Access Living Applauds Major Home Services Program Victories for Illinois Workers and People with Disabilities

Yesterday, the Pritzker administration and SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas (SEIU HCIIMK) announced that an agreement had been reached to address major issues affecting the Illinois Home Services Program (HSP). Roughly 28,000 HSP workers, also called Individual Providers or Personal Attendants, serve around 30,000 people with disabilities statewide. HSP is a unique state program in that it allows for a person with a disability to self-direct their services; both the State and the HSP customer are the employers for the HSP workers. 
 
The Pritzker administration also announced the implementation of a wage increase and back pay for childcare workers represented by SEIU HCIIMK.
 
The main points of the HSP agreement include:

• Implement a 48-cent per hour wage increase for HSP workers, which was part of a state budget deal from last year

• Release more than $29 million being held in back pay for workers, from when the 48-cent wage increase was supposed to go into effect on August 5, 2018

• Cease enforcement of the HSP overtime policy until a new policy is developed with input from HSP customers with disabilities and workers
 
The Pritzker administration's statement on HSP can be read at this link  and SEIU HCIIMK's statement on HSP can be read at this link.
 
We cannot emphasize enough the direct link between disability rights and the rights of workers who provides services for people with disabilities. Without support for both people with disabilities and workers, life in the community is impossible. For many years, we have worked closely with SEIU HCIIMK to realize the vision of an HSP that both empowers Illinoisans with disabilities to live freely in the community, and that pays workers a living wage, health insurance, and provides training. This new agreement is an important and long overdue achievement.
 
In particular, we'd like to highlight the importance of being able to revisit the HSP overtime policy. Because of federal regulations, the State of Illinois developed an overtime policy for HSP, but the policy that was developed was extremely rigid and punitive. The policy failed to create reassurance of a working system, and instead created an environment of fear and distrust for HSP customers with disabilities and workers. We, and our community partners, welcome a new opportunity to revisit the policy and ensure that it actually makes sense for HSP customers and their workers.
 
We would like to thank not only SEIU HCIIMK but also the following disability and ally advocacy groups for their hard work on the HSP overtime policy in particular:

Chicago ADAPT, Alliance for Community Services, Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, Equip for Equality, Caring Across Generations/National Domestic Workers Alliance, Progress Center, the Center for Public Representation (based in DC), and others.
 
Access Living looks forward to working with all stakeholders involved to ensure that the Home Services Program creates real opportunity for the empowerment of people with disabilities and meaningful jobs for HSP workers.