EEO/AA Issues & Concerns

  1. Contractual rights under the State's collective bargaining agreements limit affirmative action procedures with regard to hiring and promotion opportunities. The collective bargaining agreements require the State agencies to offer vacant positions internally first, and of the candidates interested, the most senior person who is covered under the collective bargaining agreement is offered the position. Although not unique to IDHS, this feature impedes the agency's capacity to assertively address underutilization in positions covered by the various collective bargaining agreements.
  2. The vast majority of employees at IDHS whose job title falls in the Technicians EEO Job Category, where the majority of the Agency's underutilizations fall, are employed as Mental Health Technicians (MHT) and Security Therapy Aides (STAs). These jobs are utilized by IDHS at its 7 facilities for persons with developmental disabilities, 6 mental health centers, a treatment, and detention facility for the treatment of sexually violent persons, the School for the Visually Impaired, the School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education. Both job titles require the knowledge, skill, and mental development equivalent to the completion of high school. The MHT jobs are considered entry-level positions. The work is difficult and requires compassion and patience. Work examples include the physical transfer of patients and residents, light housekeeping duties, assistance with self-help skills like bathing, diaper changing, feeding, etc., and the ability to handle situations of changes in behavior. These positions require the psychological capability to adjust to individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness under certain conditions of maximum security. MHTs and Security Therapy Aides (STAs) must have the ability to protect themselves and others. It also requires the ability to think clearly and exercise initiative in emergency situations. It is a very tough job and unfortunately, there is no effective way to test for these types of skill sets. The treatment and detention facility for sexually violent persons is not an enticing job for females, because the residents being cared for are individuals who have been detained or civilly committed as sexually violent. There is also an issue of retention of employees in this job title. Mandatory overtime is exhausting in an already demanding position.
  3. The reasons behind the high turnover rate have been noted in exit interviews as; income, mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, shift work (prefer 1st shift), full-time positions are only available, and the amount of overtime (OT) required. The salary for MHTT has been increased to Step 3, which calculates to barely $20/hour. CNAs in the private sector are making $25-$30/hour and IDHS cannot compete with this salary. Candidates are informed of the OT requirement before accepting a position, however, they have greatly underestimated the scope of OT required. Additionally, candidates find working weekends as a deterrent. Most IDHS facilities are on a rotation basis with employees only allowed every 3rd weekend off. Positions at IDHS facilities and centers are sometimes experiencing staff-to-resident ratio challenges. These situations call for overtime (OT) which, over time, can have a negative effect on the health and non-work life of employees.
  4. The hiring process for MHT is conducted through CMS hiring practices. CMS provides the Agency with only the names of applicants from the eligibility list for the number of positions that need to be filled. Because of this process, IDHS is unable to report the number of MHT add-ons to the eligibility list by IDHR Region for those eligible applicants not provided by CMS to IDHS. The Agency's Security Therapy Aide Trainee and Social Services Career Trainee positions are also being filled in this same manner and offer the same difficulties when attempting to report accurate information related to the race/sex of those who are on the eligibility lists.
  5. Population data shows an increase of persons in the Asian and Hispanic affirmative action groups in regions of Illinois where there are colleges and universities. Subsequently, this is where underutilization increases have been observed. Students live in these locations during their college career as their residence; therefore, they are counted in the Census. These numbers are then factored into labor market information, when in fact students are in their current location to obtain a higher education, and not necessarily looking for a career path there.
  6. The State hiring and promotion process often moves slowly. Already existing, qualified State employees applying for another position with the State can wait a significant amount of time for a response. This process is even more cumbersome for potential new hires. Individuals outside the State workforce can apply for a State position and wait months for a response back. In many cases, those individuals have found another job, affecting the State's ability to reach top candidates and, sometimes, to make any hire. This impacts IDHS's ability to meet address its underutilization. In short, the ability to hire affects the ability to address any hiring and utilization deficiencies.
  7. IDHS' ability to meet affirmative action goals is severely limited by prevailing law which makes the selection of an affirmative action group based on underutilization needs difficult, if not impossible.
  8. IDHS sometimes has challenges getting information and feedback, including demographic information, regarding recruitment, hiring, and addressing underutilizations from CMS. IDHS continues to attempt to gather accurate information from CMS on the pool of applicants for certain titles (MHT, RN, etc.) by demographics. IDHS understands CMS's own staffing challenges.
  9. Reporting workforce information for employees with disabilities is based on individuals self-identifying if they have a disability or not. These numbers fluctuate because an employee may have a disability but does not disclose it or they may not know they have a disability and therefore do not disclose it. Traditional and current data collection and classification treat race and Hispanic origin as two separate and distinct concepts in accordance with guidelines from the United States Census Bureau's Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
  10. People who provide more than one race response on Census data are included in the total of each race they reported. Thus, someone who reported as "Black and Asian" is counted in both the Black total and in the Asian total. In contrast, the practice of some organizations, researchers, and media is to show race and Hispanic origin together as one concept. The introduction of the option to report more than one race added more complexity to the presentation and comparison of these data. For Hispanics, the total includes people reporting a Hispanic origin, regardless of the race or races they reported.
  11. DHS currently lacks the capability to access recruitment data, reports, and analytics which can be a potential solution to some recruitment challenges. Without this information, IDHS is unable to gauge efficiency in our recruitment strategies and overall performance or contact previous applicants for hard-to-fill areas and reengage them to take another look at IDHS.