Client Case Study

They Deserve More

Public Affairs, Digital, Video

THE CHALLENGE

Illinois workers who care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities had not received an hourly wage increase from the state in nine years! State funding for these essential caregivers—direct support professionals (DSPs)—had stalled at about $9.35 per hour, wages that are below the federal poverty level.

The staffing crisis caused by this lack of funding has been a nightmare for those who rely on direct support staff for daily care and support — community homes have closed, hundreds of caregiver positions have gone unfilled, and nearly 20,000 children and adults with disabilities have languished on a state waiting list for services.

THE APPROACH

JT was retained in April 2017 by a group of six nonprofit agencies in Illinois that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The General Assembly had passed a DSP wage increase in 2016 only to see it vetoed by the Governor. JT’s goal: Avoid the same fate in 2017.

With little time remaining in the spring 2017 legislative session, JT acted quickly to develop and execute a three-month, multifaceted strategy, including:

  • Messaging & Branding: Developing a campaign name, identity and visual branding; core messaging, fact sheets, infographics, email blasts, billboard advertising and other materials.
  • Digital Strategy: Designing and launching a campaign microsite, which included a legislative action center and story repository; launching and managing Twitter and Facebook pages, and running targeted Facebook advertising.
  • Video: Filming and producing a powerful video illustrating the impact of the issue on people with disabilities, family members and caregivers; telling the story of one young man through his mother and caregiver.
  • Coalition-Building and Activation: Working with core agencies to increase the size of the coalition. JT also drove supporters to the campaign website to generate thousands of emails to legislators and the Governor at key points during the legislative session
  • Media: Developing an aggressive, proactive media relations strategy which mined for a variety of human interest impacts and targeted key reporters and outlets all over the state.

THE RESULTS

  • Illinois legislators included around $53 million in the state budget to provide a a modest DSP wage increase, an important start. At a time when many service sectors received state funding cuts, this 75-cent per hour raise represents an important first step toward providing DSPs a living wage and solving the staffing crisis afflicting people with disabilities.
  • Generated more than 30 news stories covering the DSP wage issues, including a front-page article in the Chicago Tribune and a number of major TV packages
  • Increased the size of the coalition to more than 50 providers and associations
  • 62,000 videos views in under a week; a shorter, repurposed video received another 61,000 views in just 24 hours.
  • Over 20 DSP stories generated through the They Deserve more website
  • Moving forward, the They Deserve More coalition will continue its work, driving to achieve a living and competitive DSP wage of $15 per hour.

Similar Case Studies