Budget Update: We did it and “you” made a difference.


On behalf of all of us at Challenge Unlimited we want to thank you those who contributed to our advocacy efforts to increase support for our DSP’s.

It takes a collaborative effort to make a difference for individuals with disabilities. As the legislature has been working to pass the budget we called out for help and many organizations and individuals answered that call.

You emailed your policy makers, you made calls to their offices and you helped make our efforts a success. Organizations like ours rely on collaboration and power in numbers to create a more equitable and inclusive policy system for individuals living with disabilities and we are grateful for the support we received from the community. Read the statement below from our partners at The Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities. (www.iarf.org)

IARF Statement on New State Budget with Disability, Behavioral Health Investments

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, representing community providers of services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and serious mental illnesses, today issued the following statement after the final state budget proposal was acted on by the Illinois Legislature:

“This new state budget takes an important step forward to improve care for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Illinois and invest in our crisis mental health services and supports.

We initially opposed the $2 an hour wage increase for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) proposed earlier this week, as inadequate. The $2.50 an hour increase, reached through intense negotiations and advocacy by our legislative champions, will help address our critical issues:

  • To make these jobs competitive with the minimum wage increases and wages offered at restaurants, retailers, etc.
  • To bring our state closer to compliance with a long-running Consent Decree mandating that persons with disabilities have opportunities to live in their communities. We have been out of compliance for six years in a row.
  • To help reduce a waitlist of nearly 15,000 people seeking care today, including those in state developmental centers such as Choate where the Administration has plans to move residents into community settings.

The extra dollars will help our members address a crisis in staffing that is reducing services available to those with disabilities in Illinois. We have to stay ahead of the growing state minimum wage to recruit and retain workers, and this increase will help do that.

Additionally, through partnership and collaboration, community providers will receive additional rate increases for crucial Medicaid mental health crisis services totaling $30 million. As the crisis system continues to expand in Illinois, these increases, on top of the historic $170 million increased investments included in last year’s budget, will continue to ensure these crucial services can be provided to those in need.

Again, thank you to the legislators who stepped up to ensure these investments were included in the budget, and to Gov. Pritzker and the legislative leaders for hearing our concerns. We will continue to build on the progress made in recent years to provide support to our social safety net.”

Josh Evans President and CEO

Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities


Below is more detailed information about what these advocacy efforts were able to achieve for individuals with disabilities:

Disability Services:

  • $2.50/hr DSP wage rate increase
    • Effective January 1, 2024
    • Maintains current guidance on implementation of wage rate, including regionality
  • $10 million to expand regionality factor to Community Day Services
    • Effective January 1, 2024
    • 15% rate factor for Cook and collar counties
  • $56.7 million for FY23 Guidehouse annualizations from FY23
  • $26 million for annualization of FY23 and FY24 Ligas placements
  • $27.6 million for required rate adjustment for home-based services
  • $12.5 million re-appropriation of one-time revenues for staffing supports from FY23 budget

Behavioral Health Services:

  • $30 million increase for Medicaid Mental Health – see below for full breakout of rates
    • $6.8 million for Mobile Crisis Response rates
    • $4 million for Crisis Intervention rates
    • $10.5 million for IATP rates
    • $1.2 million for Group Therapy rates
    • $500,000 for Family Therapy rates
    • $4 million for Community Support Group rates and
    • $3 million for Medication Monitoring rates
  • $170 million for Mental Health Grants
    • An increase of almost $5 million over FY23
  • $58 million for Community Transitions/Rebalancing
    • An increase of almost $5 million over FY23
  • $10 million for the Behavioral Health Workforce Center
  • $5 million for the BH Student Loan Repayment Program
    • This represents continued funding of the program, which will now also be expanded to include additional practitioner levels and higher grant amounts
  • $5 million for 988 Call Centers
  • $75 million in Mental Health Block Grants
    • $50 million in continued MH Block Grant funding
    • $25 million in ARPA MH Block Grant funding

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