$54 million in state aid for home care worker salaries will help alleviate hiring shortage, association says | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – Illinois’ in-home care workers are getting a raise thanks to a $54 million bonus payment to make up for a rate increase that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Illinois Department on Aging and Department of Human Services are paying $54 million to eligible in-home care providers, which will be put toward a rate increase for workers to eventually bring their minimum wage up to $15 an hour.

Theresa Collins, president of the Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers and CEO of Senior Services Plus in Alton, says they are grateful for this funding because it will allow them to be more competitive in the job market.

“We’re competing for workers with industries that we never did; those industries are now offering higher salaries for really less skilled work,” she said.

Collins said out in-home care requires a lot from workers and recruitment is at a crisis level.

“It’s really our most challenging aspect of our provider network at the moment,” she said. “We have so many seniors in need who qualify for care and support, but less workers to provide care.”

Collins said the funds will allow them to go beyond raising wages to provide additional benefits.

“Offering things like mileage stipends, gas cards so that people can get to their jobs, and also providing additional training and certification,” she said.

She said one of the biggest concerns among people considering a job is whether the position will allow for upward mobility, so additional training and certification opportunities will make in-home care more attractive as a career.

Workers aren’t the only ones to benefit from the funds, Collins adds.

“Many times families are having to miss work, leave their jobs, lose their salaries to care for a family member who’s aging,” she said.

The service in-home care provides allows those individuals to remain in productive jobs. But it’s not just families; communities benefit as well.

“When someone is able to stay at home and age in place, many of these individuals are homeowners, so they’re paying taxes; they’re paying for goods and services; and those monies are going right back into the communities that they live in,” Collins said.

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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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