On Thursday, I had an informative meeting and tour of Scott Air Force Base with the Military Economic Development Committee. The MEDC does work in the critical areas of cyber-security and defense industrial chain, base proximate economic development, and military family quality of life. I am proud to support the efforts of our military and the military families who call Illinois home.
January: Human Trafficking Awareness Month
January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, which aims to remind Illinois residents that human trafficking could be happening in their own communities. According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the agency investigated 225 allegations of human trafficking of children in Fiscal Year 2019.
In 2018, a task force of Illinois legislators issued a report on the crisis stating: “According to a 2018 Human Trafficking Statistical Summary published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Adams School of Social Work, the top venues for sex trafficking in Illinois were hotels, residence-based commercial sex, illicit massage businesses, escort services, and online ads. The top venues for labor trafficking were traveling sales crews, domestic work, agriculture, retail, and begging rings. Between December 2007 and December 2017,1,148 human trafficking cases, consisting of 2,832 identified trafficked persons and survivors in Illinois, were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”
DCFS says there are signs or indicators of possible child trafficking:
• Having an adult control them by speaking for them;
• Seeming out of place given the time of day or night;
• Looking disheveled or dressed in clothes that they could not afford to buy;
• Showing signs of physical abuse such as bruising or red marks;
• Not possessing any form of identification;
• Performing inappropriate work for their age and not being compensated.
The Illinois DCFS hotline to report child abuse and neglect, including suspected trafficking, is 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873). The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline is 1-888-373-7888.
Illinois State Police are hiring
The Illinois State Police (ISP) have extended the application period for the next Cadet class until Jan. 31. Candidates who successfully complete the Recruitment Examination will be invited to participate in a mandatory Physical Fitness Inventory Test in late March, with training to begin this summer. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, have an associate’s degree or 60 credit hours of college course work. Prospective candidates can apply online at https://illinoistrooper.com/.
Last summer, ISP reinstituted its “Fast Track” program, which offers current certified police officers the opportunity to join the ISP following an accelerated 13-week training program. The Fast Track Cadet Class is expected to begin this spring.
Pension Parity for Department of Human Services “Security Employees”
On Thursday, I introduced legislation that will allow certain employees at DHS facilities, like Chester Mental Health Center, to benefit from the Tier 2 alternative retirement annuity formula.
Senate Bill 2467 will add "security employees" to the Tier 2 alternative retirement annuity formula under the State of Illinois Retirement System.
This alternative formula allows participants to retire at age 60, while standard Tier 2 is calculated on a retirement age of 67.
Currently, the alternative formula applies to those with high-risk, high-stress jobs, including corrections officers, state police, and firefighters.
Security employees at the Department of Human Services perform demanding tasks and often face extreme cases. They are at high risk of physical and psychological abuse working at mental health centers in Illinois.
This is an issue of fairness in the workplace for those who do demanding jobs at mental health facilities, including Chester Mental Health Center. These employees often face dangerous and emotionally challenging work and should be compensated accordingly.
Specifically, under SB 2467, current DHS security employees would be allowed to buy up to 8 years of service to convert them to be counted towards the alternative formula, and the State Employment Retirement System estimates that about 600 employees could fall into this group.