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Direct Support Professionals Request Pay Increase

Updated: Wednesday, February 5 2014, 11:59 AM CST

Workers who help take care of disabled people were at the Illinois capitol Tuesday. They were asking lawmakers to give them a pay raise.

The workers are called direct support professionals, or DSPs. They care for residents dealing with disabilities such as autism.

The group points to a recent survey showing the average DSP in Illinois earns $9.35 per hour, which is below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' poverty threshold for a family of four. They are asking lawmakers to raise their wages to at least $13 per hour.

We spoke with Art Dykstra, owner of Trinity Services, which employs DSPs. He says he can't afford to pay them more himself.

"No, I sure wish I could," Dykstra said. "I think one of the things that the care campaign is talking about is that those rates are set by the state. Ultimately, Gov. Quinn obviously has a lot to do with that, as does the legislature, so we're here today appealing to both bodies to do something about this problem."

Dykstra thinks higher wages would reduce employee turnover, and that provides more stability for the patients.

The group delivered 15,000 postcards to lawmakers, signed by workers asking for the pay bump. There are two bills--one in each chamber--that would raise the starting wages to $13 per hour for DSPs. Both are waiting to be heard in committee.

Direct Support Professionals Request Pay Increase

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