State Senator Chris Belt Participates in “Walk a Day in My Shoes” Event with Local Senior & Caregiver as Push for Higher Wages for Illinois Home Care Aides Gains Momentum

30,000 Home Care Aides and 100,000 Seniors in the Community Care Program to Benefit from Efforts to Stabilize Workforce

East St. Louis – Home care aides that serve Illinois seniors through the Community Care Program (CCP) are calling on the General Assembly and Governor J.B. Pritzker to take action to stabilize the workforce this legislative session by supporting a rate increase that will set a $13 per hour wage for front line caregivers. On Wednesday, April 17, State Senator Chris Belt spent time with two local constituents to hear firsthand why urgent action is necessary and to learn more about the vital role that home care services play in the lives of our state’s senior population. Sen. Belt also signed a pledge to support raising wages for home care aides in the CCP.

During the “walk a day in my shoes” event, CCP service recipient Levonia Stanton and home care aide Cassandra Broadway shared their personal stories with Sen. Belt. They urged him to support efforts to raise wages and explained how it connects to the quality of care seniors in the program receive. Senator Belt then participated in cleaning Ms. Stanton’s home, including sweeping the floors and washing dishes.

Sen Belt and Lavonia Stanton

State Sen. Chris Belt listens to senior Levonia Stanton describe how vital it is for her to stay at home, in her community.

“I thank God for Cassandra and I don’t know what I’d do without her,” Stanton said. “It is so important for us to have home care workers we can count on but I’m afraid of losing her. She might be forced to look for work elsewhere because what she earns is not enough. Caregivers need this raise so they can continue providing the kind of care we seniors deserve.”

The average home care aide earns only $11.08 per hour for life line services that seniors count on, like meal preparation, transportation to doctor’s appointments, housekeeping, and help with personal care like bathing and dressing. Low pay contributes to a 35% turnover rate among the workforce that compromises care when trusted workers are forced to leave the industry for better-paying jobs.

“This is my calling and I truly like taking care of people but it is such a struggle to do so on $11.17 an hour. It is becoming harder and harder to make ends meet and I’m forced to live check to check. Sometimes I can’t pay a bill because I need to buy the medicine I need to live. This increase is needed for me to be able to continue doing this work,” said Broadway.

Home care services like those provided through the CCP save the State of Illinois hundreds of millions of dollars each year by preventing unnecessary and costly nursing home placement. To maintain this preferred and cost-effective system of care, a wage increase is critical to support recruitment and retention of caregivers.