An advocacy group is asking a federal judge to enforce a court order meant to reform private care facilities for people with developmental disabilities.
Equip for Equality sued the state for reforms in 2005.
Barry Taylor, the vice president for civil rights and systemic litigation at Equip for Equality, alleged the state has not increased its reimbursement rate for service providers since 2008, hampering their ability to hire people at a higher wage.
Taylor said the shortage of workers means agencies aren’t complying with the court order issued in 2011.
“They’re having a hard time hiring a sufficient number of workers to provide the services and support people needed in the community and they’re at a crisis,” he said.
Jason Clark is the Chief Program Officer at Little City, a state-funded group based in Chicago. He said the stagnant rate puts staff and patient well-being at risk.
“We have our starting wages at 10 bucks an hour,” he said, “and you could go down to Target, WalMart McDonalds for at least the same amount of money if not more.”
An independent monitor, in charge of overseeing the state’s compliance with the agreement, highlighted the issue in an annual report last year.
In a statement, Illinois Department of Human Services spokeswoman Meredith Krantz said the department disagrees with the filing, saying it distracts “from the good progress that has been made and will continue to be made.”