The bill to increase wages for DSPs is now on the Governor’s desk. If you’d like to advocate for this bill, the coalition is is having people send postcards to Governor Rauner. You may also want to give feedback to our legislators and candidates: Representative Skoog voted in favor of the bill. Senator Rezin didn’t. Their opponents in the election have not taken positions on the bill that we are aware of.
Legislators and the Governor passed a stopgap state budget yesterday. How does it directly impact SU? Not at all. We’ve been fortunate that our residential and developmental training services have been paid all along due to a court order. With no exaggeration, we would have closed by now were it not for this court order, which thankfully has been extended through state fiscal year 2017. We still won’t be paid for the contracted janitorial services we provide at the Illinois State Police Headquarters. It seems likely we’ll have to go to the Court of Clams for that, which can take a very long time. There was no help for wages for direct care staff (or for the other expenses which have risen in the decade since we last got an increase).
Our over-riding concern continues to be the administration’s apparent desire to do away with small social service agencies and only contract with large one, as stated by Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, describing it as “a necessary shakeout” and as “starving the beast.” We would ask that people oppose this policy. We think smaller agencies, rooted in their communities, will be better for people than large, multi-state corporations.
One example occurred yesterday, while we were having to turn around state contracts for FY17, which begins today, in incredibly short order. One state agency with whom we work reinstated the requirement for national accreditation, which the previous administration had waived due to agencies’ financial hardship. We believe accreditation is a good practice, but when you’re scrambling just to keep your homes staffed, it’s not something worth spending large amounts of time you don’t have plus $10-20,000 on. In the past few months we have had 6 separate state surveys which looked at all aspects of our organization. That required a lot of time on our part, but we do believe the state should be making sure providers are doing a good job. Requiring accreditation on top of this may not be a big matter for large agencies, but for agencies the size of SU it’s a big deal and a drain on limited resources.