Illinois Home Care Workers, Seniors, Lawmakers Rally, Hand-Deliver Petitions to State Legislature Demanding $20/Hour for Care Workers

Springfield DOA lobby day

Petitions demanding living wages have over 4,000 signatures from Illinoisians from over 500 towns 

Springfield, IL – As the deadline for the state budget quickly approaches, Illinois home care workers and seniors from across the state descended on the Springfield Capitol Rotunda for a rally to demand a $20/hour minimum wage for workers in the Illinois Community Care Program (CCP). Joined by allies including Illinois State Senator Omar Aquino and Illinois State Representative Marcus Evans, care workers with SEIU Healthcare Illinois shared emotional stories about their struggle to survive on poverty wages, making home care in Illinois an unsustainable profession for retirement and financial stability. A livestream video of the rally is available here. Photos are available here

“In my own household, I find myself working four jobs just to keep afloat. And I’m not alone. Countless others in similar situations are sacrificing their well-being, time with their families, and their own health to make ends meet,” said Kayla Watson, Springfield home care worker and SEIU Healthcare Illinois member. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. By raising pay to $20/hour, we can stabilize the workforce our seniors depend on to continue living independently in the homes they’ve worked their whole life for to keep their dignity and remain comfortable, rather than being forced into costly institutional care.”

Kayla Watson, home care worker, speaks at Springfield DOA lobby day

Wednesday’s rally capped off a several months-long campaign calling on state legislators to address the deepening home care crisis in Illinois which currently leaves 12.1 million hours of care for the 67,000 seniors enrolled in CCP unfulfilled. Flanked by signs blaring “TIME for $20” and “Build the workforce seniors need,” seniors also shared how they rely on home care workers to live independently in their homes. 

Springfield DOA lobby day

“I’ve had multiple home care workers over the years, and sadly many of them have had to leave me to find better paying jobs,” said Demetrice Davis, a senior who receives home care services through CCP. “Home care workers have bills and families of their own to support, and the pay you’re given is simply not enough! I’ve had to go weeks at a time without home care services when my previous aides left the industry, and let me tell you, it’s heartbreaking. I really suffer when my access to this support is interrupted or cut off and it has serious consequences for my mental and physical health.”

Demetrice Davis, a senior who receives home care services through CCP., speaks at Springfield DOA lobby day

During the rally, Illinois elected officials praised home care workers for the selfless work they do to care for Illinois seniors. Immediately after the rally, care workers and seniors hand-delivered petitions with over 4,000 signatures from Illinoisians from over 500 different towns to state legislators demanding they prioritize Illinois care workers and the seniors they serve in the upcoming state budget. 

“I’m proud to have put forward legislation that will raise pay for every agency home care worker serving seniors through the Community Care Program to a minimum of $20/hour,” said State Representative Marcus Evans. “My mother was a home care aide, and I have seen firsthand how demanding this job can be and the lengths you all go to serve your clients.”

Rep. Marcus Evans at Springfield DOA lobby day

The state legislature plans to finalize the budget by the end of May, after which CCP home care workers will not have another opportunity to secure a living wage until January 2026. If wages do not increase, workers are desperately concerned that they will have no choice but to leave the industry and further jeopardize access to essential care services. Bridging the widening gap between the demand for home care and the skilled professionals available to provide it starts with a crucial step towards making care jobs good jobs by paying care workers wages that reflect their worth, which will increase worker retention and help combat the worsening care worker crisis. 

“There are 12.1 million hours of home care services that our state’s seniors should be receiving but they aren’t. And that’s because we don’t have the workforce we need to provide those 12.1 million hours of care,” said Jackie Rodriguez, Home Care Vice President and Director of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “We are calling for a $20 per hour wage floor to build the workforce our seniors need…This fight for $20 is about dignity for workers and dignity for our seniors.”

Wednesday’s rally is the culmination of an escalating series of actions across the state to demand a $20 minimum wage for CCP home care workers. Ahead of the rally, care workers ramped up their campaign with new digital ads featuring home care workers and seniors telling their personal care stories and demanding livable wages. On April 24, care workers gathered with officials from the Department of Health and Human Services in Chicago to underscore the importance of state action to address the care crisis. On April 25, home care workers gathered for a roundtable discussion about the future of care jobs in Illinois, and on May 1 home care workers and seniors held a press conference stressing the urgency to take action on the care crisis.

“We are committed to doing everything it takes between now and end of session to make sure the state budget includes a new wage floor of $20 per hour for our home care workers serving seniors. We aren’t going to settle for our current reality that falls short of providing the kinds of quality, accessible services and family-sustaining jobs that we need,” said Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “Instead, we are demanding and fighting for communities where we can all thrive, whether we’re workers or seniors.”