Amidst ‘Great Resignation,’ Omicron Surge, Survey Finds Disability Service Providers On The Brink

February 2, 2022

A January 2022 survey of 67 community provider agencies in Illinois found that more than half were actively planning to suspend admissions or consolidate residential sites due to inadequate caregiver staffing.

The survey, conducted by They Deserve More, asked more than 90 coalition members to quantify the impact of the current Direct Support Professional (DSP) staffing crisis amidst the "Great Resignation" and the recent COVID-19 Omicron surge. Agency respondents represented a significant portion of the numbers of persons with disabilities served in Residential Services and Community Day Services across the state.

Among the 67 respondents, more than 2,500 DSP positions were unfilled, averaging 38 unfilled positions per agency. The DSP vacancy rate stood at a staggering 27 percent, and providers reported an additional 17 percent of staff were unable to work for COVID-19 related reasons. DSP vacancies in total result in more than 100,500 unfilled weekly hours and undelivered care

Long before COVID-19, community providers were already struggling to keep and recruit DSPs because of significant underfunding from the state. The current “Great Resignation” only worsens the existing problem as qualified caregivers seek higher paying, less demanding jobs. Historically high inflation has blunted the impact of DSP wage increases, and the percentage difference between the minimum wage and the state DSP wage rate has actually decreased over time.

The state must provide an increase of $246.8M to fully fund the Guidehouse Rate Study recommendations for FY'23 and stabilize the community system.

Without this critically needed funding, the safety and well-being of thousands of people with disabilities is gravely at risk.

Download the full survey and results summary.