Online Staff Report
This week in six cities across the state, people with disabilities, their family members, and home care workers are uniting to denounce proposed cuts to home care services.
In Rockford, supporters collected signatures on a letter they plan to fax to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) urging him to stand up for people with disabilities and working families this Mother’s Day by stopping the cuts and investing in quality home care.
Pat Whitman, a mother and home care consumer, spoke out about what it means for her to remain in her home, surrounded by family and loved ones.
“My home care worker allows me to stay in my community and with my family, where I want to be,” Whitman said. “Cuts to home care services would not only end the independence I enjoy right now, but would also cut me off from my children because I’d be forced into institutional care. These cuts are wrong for Illinois — the services people like me receive are critical to our lives.”
Home care services enable more than 100,000 seniors and people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes across Illinois with the assistance of home care workers. Beyond protecting the dignity and security of these consumers, home care also saves the state hundreds of millions by avoiding costly institutional care.
Budget shortfalls have resulted in proposals to cut access to these critical services and cut hours for consumers already enrolled in the program.
The governor’s proposed budget includes huge cuts to the DHS-DRS Home Services Program that provides access to home care services for people with disabilities in Illinois. The proposed $60.5 million in service and eligibility cuts would kick thousands of people with disabilities out of the program, prevent thousands from entering and receiving the services they need, and drastically reduce services for more than 14,000 consumers.
As lawmakers grapple with the budget, many Illinoisans fear they’ll be left with no choice but to transition to nursing home care, swallowing more state resources and sending home care workers to the unemployment line.
“My consumer relies on me for a lot, and I take pride in the quality care I provide for her,” said home care worker Heather Lindstrom. “It’s getting harder and harder to get her everything she needs in the hours I’m allowed to work, and talks about cuts would mean her hours would be slashed even further, and she won’t get the care she needs. It would also be much harder for me to support my family with even lower take-home pay. We need to invest in quality home care services and jobs.”
Posted May 10, 2012