Narrative Underutilization Analysis (Step 4b)

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has reviewed the Utilization Analysis Chart and determined the following significant (double digit) underrepresentation of employees in specific EEO job categories, cross-referenced by race and sex:

  • White Males - Officials/Managers, Professionals, Technicians, and Administrative Support
  • Hispanic Males - Service/Maintenance
  • White Females - Technicians and Protective Services (non-sworn)

Additionally, upon reviewing the Utilization Analysis Chart, the Technicians EEO Job Category stands out as identifying significant challenges in meeting minority and female underutilization (i.e. Hispanic Males, Asian Males, Hispanic Females and Asian Females).

IDHS has received a notice of non-compliance of minority underutilization at the State level from the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). Due to this notification, IDHS' Bureau of Civil Affairs is meeting monthly with IDHR, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (the State's personnel clearinghouse), Minority Advisory Groups, Legislators, etc. as determined necessary. A plan of action moving forward is being discussed to help determine the necessary action steps needed to address the Agency's minority underutilization. However, let it be noted, that annually, at the State level, IDHS continues to meet compliance criteria in its female affirmative action performance standards according to the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Also, White Males at the State level are at parity. Females are underutilized at the State level in IDHR Region 4, in the Technicians EEO Job Category where the Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility is located and houses the majority of the Technician job positions.

The vast majority of employees at IDHS whose job title falls in the Technicians EEO Job Category are employed as Mental Health Technicians (MHT) and Security Therapy Aides (STA). 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.

Additionally, the Mental Health Technician job requires candidates to pass a two part written test. The reading comprehension and vocabulary can be challenging for applicants who are not English proficient. Comprehension is the reason for reading, but it can be the most difficult skill to master - especially for English language learners. Candidates must score at least an 8th grade level on the written test. From past testing experience, IDHS has found this to be particularly challenging for the Asian population that qualifies for this title with only a 33% pass rate. Candidates must also pass a physical agility test to qualify. The physical agility test is comprised of: a mile walk (one attempt only), back lift strength (3 attempts), recipient transfer (2 attempts) and a 100 yard shuttle run (two attempts).

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, as their residence during their college career; therefore they are counted in the Census. These numbers are then factored into labor market information, when in fact they are in their current location to obtain a higher education, not necessarily persons looking for a career path.

The majority of hires and promotions that take place are contingent upon contractual rights that must be adhered to. Statewide, the training title for the MHT and STA were moved from the Technicians EEO Job Category to the Para-Professionals EEO Job Category in April of 2016 by IDHR. This has posed a challenge in targeting diversified hiring, because the Para-Professionals EEO Job Category is at Parity in all IDHR Regions of the State except one. Therefore, legally, IDHS can't specifically request that Hispanics/Latinos and/or Asians be moved to the front of the listing for hire as a Mental Health Technician Trainee or Security Therapy Aide Trainee, because the EEO Job Category the trainee title is assigned (Para-Professional) is at Parity.

The MHT and STA jobs are considered entry level positions. The work is very difficult and takes compassion and patience. Work examples include physical transfer of patients, 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 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 good way to test for these types of skill sets. Culturally, MHT and STA jobs might be difficult for some ethnicities to adopt. 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 persons. There is also an issue of retention of employees in these job titles, specifically the MHT.

Additionally, across all Illinois State Government, as of the past couple years, working for the State of Illinois has not been an enticing choice of employment, because of the lack of a budget and union contract, as well as the worst pension deficit in the country. The recruitment and hiring of individuals to work for the State of Illinois has drastically decreased in the past several years due to the challenges the State is currently facing.

With all this said, let it be known, that overall, the Illinois Department of Human Services is committed to a diversified workforce. Every effort is being made to ensure applicants from the underutilized groups are available in the selection process when hiring/promotional opportunities exist, where legally possible. IDHS reviews hiring activity daily and discusses strategies where needed in meetings of the Agency's Recruitment, Hiring and Discipline Committee, the Technician Recruitment Retention Committee, the Asian American Employment Plan Advisory Council, the Hispanic American Employment Plan Advisory Council, the African American Employment Plan Advisory Council and the monthly meetings with the State of Illinois EEO/AA Regulatory Agency (IDHR).