Hundreds of Illinois Home Care Workers and Seniors Rallied to Demand Higher Pay for Care Workers to Address Workforce Shortage Crisis 

DOA Home care rally Springfield, IL 03-13-24

Low pay contributes to a staggering 65% workforce turnover rate that threatens care for Illinois seniors.

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois home care workers rallied in the Capitol today to sound the alarm on a looming workforce shortage that is creating a crisis for Illinois seniors who depend on home care to remain living safely at home. On Wednesday, March 13, hundreds of home care workers and seniors met in the Statehouse rotunda to call for passage of a $20 per hour minimum wage and a revamped paid training program for home care workers serving seniors through the Community Care Program (CCP).

Many seniors in the program are already going without the care they should receive due to a severe workforce shortage that is driven by low wages. The number of authorized CCP hours not serviced has increased by 46%.  Workers and seniors are demanding urgent action because without funding for a rate increase to improve pay this session, the workforce won’t see another increase until 2026 at the earliest and workers can’t afford to fall further behind.

“This industry struggles with high levels of turnover because our home care workers simply are not paid enough. And when caregivers leave the profession to search for higher paying careers, it leaves our senior citizens without access to care they rely on to continue living independently in their homes and in our communities,” explained Jessica Kopacz, a home care worker from Benton, Illinois. “My daughter is developmentally delayed, and she will likely depend on home care services in the future, but I worry that we might not be able to find the help that she needs.”

The Illinois Community Care Program, one of the state’s most important and essential long term care programs, allows 100,000 Illinois seniors to remain living in their communities longer by receiving services at home for their daily living needs. Seniors overwhelmingly prefer these home care services as they age, but right now, many seniors who are approved for services cannot get the care they need due to a workforce shortage driven by low wages, limited benefits, minimal training support and as a result, high turnover.

“I worked as a home care worker myself for over 20 years, so I know how demanding this job can be and I’m here today because these people aren’t being paid enough,” said Diana Inman, a senior from Decatur who receives services through the Community Care Program. “People like me struggle to access home care services that allow us to continue living independently in our homes because of a workforce shortage that is being driven by low wages, and our elected officials must act.”

“Wages must reflect our value in home care work, and they currently do not. Home care workers are our first line of defense for our seniors. If we want to keep seniors in their homes living a dignified life, we must take action now to give home care workers a meaningful raise,” said Sen. Omar Aquino, the chief sponsor of SB3332 that seeks to lift pay to $20 per hour and provide incentives for improved training standards.