The state dropped in unannounced this week to do the annual survey of our Developmental Training Program. We were very pleased to earn a 98%. If you’d like to see the survey report, it’s on our “Documents and Reports” page.
SU received a statewide recognition award. We are very proud of our achievements!
The Illinois House and the Illinois Senate will be hearing bills to increase funding so that Direct Care Employees can make a living wage. If y you’d like to express your support, you can fill out a witness slip for both the House and Senate Bills. Our direct care staff truly deserve better wages for the important work they do, and shouldn’t have to leave the field in order to make a living wage.
This article was not new information for us. Sometimes we feel like a broken record talking about the lack of state funding. Sometimes we worry that people will think that’s what we’re going to keep saying forever and forever and it will never be enough. This article is a good reminder that it’s not us, it’s the state.Where we are really feeling the strain right now is in staffing. It’s very difficult to hire and keep direct care staff due to the fact that we can’t afford to offer higher wages. It’s a big deal and keeps getting worse. We can agree that the state does indeed have its own financial difficulties. We can also agree that they could be doing better for people with disabilities.
The first battle is from 5-6 and features our own Sherri Stephens and Stephanie Harcharik vs. our own Board Members Nate Hovious and Jerry Justice. Stephanie wants you to know she and Sherri will be taking donations ahead of time as well, so as to crush their competition. Thank you Hardscrabble Lions!
I’ts a very rough time for recruitment and retention of staff for those incredibly important direct care positions. The problem is state-wide. No increase in 10 years, plus cuts to our grants in the meantime, makes it hard to offer competitive wages. It’s unfortunate–we’ve lost staff who love our consumers and the work they do with them, but who need to make a living wage. There is a bill in the house at the moment to raise these wages to $15/hour. It is here.
We miss getting outside in the winter, but we find ways to enjoy our time indoors.
The Illinois United Way put out a survey of the impact of the budget impasse here in Illinois. Simply put, it has been horrific. As for the impact on SU, it has been thankfully minimal. Because of court orders we have continued to be paid for our services. The only thing that hasn’t been paid has been our janitorial contract at the Illinois State Police Headquarters in LP. We haven’t been paid since July 1 due to there being no state budget this fiscal year. We can’t imagine where we’d be right now were it not for the court order for our services. There are many agencies without court orders for their services and they are having a very difficult time.
Separate from that, we desperately need an increase in funding. On the one hand, it seems crazy to say so at this time. On the other, we’re having trouble keeping up with salaries and expenses after ten years without any funding increase plus those cuts to our workshop grant. We having filled our last three day program positions that opened up and are not bringing workshop consumers in when there’s no work for them. This is hard on them in terms of income, and hard on some families as they need to find supports for their child during the day.
It’s always a fight to get funding for the good work we do and, the truth is, it seems like we’re always losing. Our last increase to help with Direct Care Wages was in 2007. We had a small increase in 2011, but tons more was cut when they eliminated Workshop funding. Back in 2007 SU was able to pay direct care staff $2.00/hour more than minimum wage. Now that is not so. It makes us sad to lose people who really love working here but can’t afford to. Costs keep going up for everything–our health insurance increase by 27% this year alone, and it has been increasing since 2007. We’ve worked hard to keep up our mission–lots and lots of community support and grants have helped. But, state budget crisis or no, we need some help from our main funder, and we need it now.