Illinois early intervention workers worry over payment backlogs

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FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, IL - Early interventionists in Illinois say they put in the work but their pay is always in question.

Tuesday, Illinois Early Intervention announced that vouchers have been approved for the week of September 18, dating back seven weeks, and workers should see that money soon.

“We never know when we`re going to get paid,"  said Carla Bouc, a Pediatric Developmental Therapist.

Some therapists and other professionals who provide early intervention services for children in Illinois say they haven't received a paycheck in several weeks.

“I know that they say that they typically been running within four weeks of payments but in my experience that has not been truthful or consistent.”

The state updated its payroll system in July but the problem with workers not getting their money regularly appears to go back before this change.

A group called "providers connection" monitors the status.

On a Facebook post made Tuesday the group tells workers vouchers were approved and payments should be coming soon.

I reached out to DHS for comment. It said, "early intervention providers deserve to be paid in a timely manner and IDHS staff under the new administration aims to process their claims as quickly as possible."

Meanwhile, the Illinois Comptroller’s Office says, "our office cannot compel state agencies to send us vouchers any quicker than they do. As soon as vouchers for home health care workers land in our office, we prioritize getting those payments out quickly.”

“It`s frustrating but it`s really illustrative of the difficulty that we have because whenever we get behind in payments, meeting to make phone calls to different offices to see what`s going on and we always get passed around," said Jackie Manker, a Spanish interpreter for early intervention.

Service providers say it's this type of financial instability that chases professionals out the field and ultimately hurts the children who need the help the most.

“If I can`t put gas in my car I can`t come. If I can`t pay for childcare I can`t come in so your child is missing out on a therapy session which everybody knows that therapy is most successful when it`s consistent," said Manker.

“I`ve spent a lifetime of doing this 20 years, and I really don`t want to walk away but I will choose my family first," said Bouc.

Some early intervention services are federally mandated, but in Illinois, these workers are not considered state employees.

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