To shore up recruitment and retention in Illinois’ home care workforce, State Senator Omar Aquino stood with Service Employees International Union members to call for a dignified, living wage for in-home care providers at a rally at the Capitol Wednesday.

“Home care is critical to keeping our parents and grandparents healthy and in their homes,” said Aquino (D-Chicago). “We want to make sure that no matter where you live in Illinois, there is high-quality care available in every community.”

Illinois’ Community Care Program allows seniors to receive care and community-based services in their own homes. Thanks to the program, over 50,000 Illinois seniors are able to receive in-home care every month, allowing them to live independently without the need to move to a more restrictive setting like a nursing facility.

Home care is the human services job with the greatest need for workers in Illinois, according to SEIU. Currently, only 77% of CCP rates paid by the state go toward employee wages, resulting in a current minimum wage of $17 per hour and leading workers to call on lawmakers to address the low wages fueling the home care workforce shortage.

Aquino is leading a measure to raise the reimbursement rate for the Community Care Program to reach a base wage of $20 per hour for home care workers. The legislation, Senate Bill 3332, also includes accountability provisions to ensure funds are passed on to all workers.

“The safety of our seniors depends on the essential workers who care for them every day,” Aquino said. “A living wage will ensure the highest quality care for our older neighbors, and will support the families of the care providers they rely on.”

Aquino remains committed to pushing for the wage increase as budget discussions continue during the final weeks of the spring legislative session.