032223CM0062sSPRINGFIELD – To address the growing need for direct support professionals, State Senator Laura Murphy is leading legislation to provide college students with hands-on training and experience in the field.

“We are facing a crisis amongst providers to our disability community,” said Murphy (D-Des Plaines). “It has been exacerbated post-pandemic, as we face an even greater shortage of disability workers who serve our most vulnerable community members.”

This legislation would require the Illinois Community College Board to create a model program of study for college students to receive class credit that incorporates the training and experience necessary to serve as direct support professionals. If adopted, the program would begin in the 2026-2027 academic year.

This builds upon the Murphy-supported legislation passed in the 102nd General Assembly, which created a pilot program for high school students to train and become certified to join the existing disability specialist workforce after graduation, which began in the 2022-2023 academic year.

According to a 2022 survey of Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities members, 28% of providers are unable to accept new patients and 72% of providers have delayed service expansion due to staffing shortages.

“Many young people are passionate about disability services, but may be hesitant to start a career in this field because a lack of hands-on training,” Murphy said. “This measure would take the delay away and encourage students to pursue their goals of working as a Direct Support Professional.”

Senate Bill 1558 passed the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate floor for further deliberation.