Senator Belt


SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) is supporting measures to ensure that Direct Support Personnel are fairly compensated for the assistance they provide to individuals with developmental disabilities.

“Support workers are essential workers,” Belt said. “These individuals care for residents who rely on them to do basic day-to-day tasks that many of us do without thinking. It’s vital that these workers are taken care of and paid a fair wage.”

DSPs are vital in community residential settings, where they help residents with daily personal care like eating and hygiene as well as teaching life skills and attending to complex medical needs. While funding for these services has increased over recent years, starting wages remain barely above minimum wage, and vacancies remain high. This disparity is because the state does not always require community agencies to pass wage increases through to the workers.

Belt joined State Senators Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) and Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) in a press conference Wednesday announcing legislation to raise worker wages. Senate Bill 3607 would raise the reimbursement rate for DSPs by $3.50 an hour to ensure these employees are the ones seeing a wage increase.

“This is not an easy job,” Belt said. “It takes interpersonal skills, patience and more to be successful. That’s why I’m supporting this measure to raise wages for the hardworking individuals who care for some of our most vulnerable residents.”

House Bill 4647 would require intellectual and developmental disability care facilities to submit annual staffing reports including data on wages, turnover rates and the racial and gender makeup of employees. Additionally, it will require state licensed Community Integrated Living Arrangements to certify that funding from the state is passed directly to employees when directed by legislative or administrative action.

Both measures await committee assignments in the Senate.