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Disability advocates seek higher pay for care providers

A person pushing another person in a wheelchair.
truthseeker08 | Pixabay
Advocates say providers are leaving the profession because of low wages.

Disability advocates are urging the General Assembly to increase the pay for direct service providers for those with disabilities.

Helen Blackburn, with Centerstone, said these providers serve a critical role for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, providing care giving, companionship, and handing complex medical needs. She said the relationship providers form with individuals can be extremely close, almost like a member of the family.

"Unfortunately, as you see the turnover, you don't have that same relationship develop with the individuals they're supporting. So when someone's having a bad day, you may not know, hey this is how that person likes to be treated when they're having a bad day. All of those things get lost if you see that turnover, and unfortunately that prevents individuals from progressing to their highest level of independence," she said.

Blackburn said low wages are driving the high turnover rate.

Advocates are asking for a rate increase to 150 percent of the minimum wage to be included in the state's budget.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.
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