Disabled In The Prairie State

Advocates for the industry and labor unions that support caregivers for people with developmental disabilities are urging lawmakers to more than double a budget boost suggested by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in February.

The Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities is asking a $4 hourly salary increase for direct care professionals in community-based settings who serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Direct support professionals, often known as DSPs, help people with everyday personal care activities like eating, bathing, and dressing.

The requested raise is $2.50 more than Pritzker recommended earlier this year. The $4 raise is also supported by AFSCME Council 31, the union that represents around 4,000 workers at community facilities and approximately 4,000 workers at state-run facilities.

Supporters argue that the increase is necessary to fill staffing gaps. More competitive wages will also help attract more employees. The current pay rate of $17 is only $4 higher than the state’s $13 minimum wage, while some DSPs earn more and some less.

The raise is one of dozens proposed by various Medicaid providers in the state. However, it is also immediately relevant to a national consent order governing the state’s provision of services for developmentally disabled individuals.

That court filing, is known as the Ligas consent decree. On July 28, 2005, the Ligas v. Hamos lawsuit was filed on behalf of adults with developmental disabilities living in private, state-funded Intermediate Care Facilities for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (ICFs/DD) who want to move to community-based services or settings, as well as adults with developmental disabilities living at home who want community-based services or settings. The Ligas v. Hamos Consent Decree was approved by the Court on June 15, 2011.

The Ligas consent decree is a byproduct of a lawsuit, filed in response to the Olmstead v. L.C. decision, which required all states to end the unnecessary segregation of disabled people and ensure that they receive services in the most integrated environment possible.

Advocates for the rate increase claim that the state has failed to comply with the consent agreement since 2017, and large waitlists for home and community based services remain. According to a database maintained by the Illinois Department of Human Services, 5,848 adults who are in need of services and currently qualify for home and community based services were among the 14,900 people on a waitlist for state services as of the end of March.

Medicaid must be expanded, and waiting lists must be eliminated. Wages for support staff must also increase. Without home and community-based services, people are routinely forced into dangerous situations, which can have devastating consequences.


“How Two Women Changed Thousands of Lives.” Disability Rights Texas, Disability Rights Texas, 17 June 2019, http://www.disabilityrightstx.org/en/2019/06/17/olmstead20th/.

Ligas Consent Decree Information.” Illinois Life Span Program, The Arc Illinois , 18 Jan. 2016, https://www.illinoislifespan.org/statewide-resource/ligas-consent-decree-information/.

Lockhart, Richard T. , Cartwright, Janet M. and Simon, Paul. “Illinois”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 21 Apr. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/place/Illinois-state.

Nowicki, Jerry. “Providers, Unions Call for Pay Increase for Staff Serving Individuals with Developmental Disabilities.” Effingham Daily News, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc, 26 Apr. 2023, https://www.effinghamdailynews.com/news/local_news/providers-unions-call-for-pay-increase-for-staff-serving-individuals-with-developmental-disabilities/article_e97cb018-e46b-11ed-a434-c3c43ce5c069.htm

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