Sherrie L. Crabb—CEO of Family Counseling Center, Inc. and Chairperson of Illinois Partners for Human Service (IPHS)—recently spent time in Springfield advocating for Human Service funding with members of the General Assembly. In meetings with Representative Patrick Windhorst, Representative Dave Severin and Representative Terri Bryant as well as Senate President Don Harmon and Deputy Governor Sol Flores, she highlighted a number of facts.
- Over the last 20 years, State funding of Human Services has been cut in half.
- State grant and contract amounts need to increase by at least 8% to cover minimum wage increases and costs associated with countering wage compression. Governor Pritzker’s proposed budget falls far short of that target.
- Lower wages in the Human Service workforce result in higher-than-average turnover rates, seriously impacting community well-being.
- Illinois continues to rank near the bottom nationally in terms of State reimbursement rates for mental health services, older adult services, substance use treatment and programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.
- The Human Service sector is a major economic engine, particularly in rural areas of Illinois. Family Counseling Center, Inc. alone was calculated to have a total economic impact of over $11 million in Fiscal Year 2019.
“We appreciate the Governor and his administration for their continued interest and engagement with Human Service providers such as those I represent. Compared to the days of the historic budget impasse, we are optimistic about our sector’s future and understand it will takes years to recover from the disinvestment we have weathered,” explained Crabb. “Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of increasing the minimum wage and raising wages for State employees without adequately adjusting reimbursement rates to private sector Human Service providers results in wage compression and makes it even harder to hire and retain qualified staff.”
Human Service providers such as Family Counseling Center, Inc. already face a serious workforce challenge as they have to compete for many of the same prospective employees with neighboring states that reimburse at higher rates and consequently pay higher salaries. Adding to this challenge is the issue of wage compression, which occurs when minimum wage increases result in entry-level jobs having near or identical salaries to jobs that necessarily require specialized skills, more experience and higher degrees.
“The reason why advocating for Human Service is so important is that the impact in our communities is so wide-reaching,” said Crabb. “Our agency employs around 160 staff and creates job opportunities for around 100 clients. It’s not simply about the individuals we serve reaching their full potential, though that is our core mission. It’s about every life we impact, whether it’s an employee, a client or their friends and family members being connected to their community and contributing to the well-being of others. Investing in Human Services has unlimited and immeasurable long-term return.”
“Each time I go to Springfield, it helps remind me of the privilege I have to advocate for our clients, our employees, our region and our sector,” concluded Crabb. “I am very fortunate not only to lead IPHS as their Chairperson but to lead one of the top Human Service organizations in our area.”