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Childcare Program Supports DSPs During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Submitted By: Michelle Murphy, Staff Development Specialist/HR, The Arc Mid-Hudson

A committee of our administrative staff from The Arc Mid-Hudson jumped to attention at the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic to find childcare for our essential direct support professionals (DSPs). This would help ensure that they would be able to continue to work and keep their families safe – while the world sheltered-in-place.

The committee searched county-to-county, finding available childcare and advertised it organization-wide. This obligation to the people served and their support staff was exemplified by ensuring that the DSPs’ most vulnerable family members would be healthy, safe, and cared for while the DSPs remained employed.

“I was up against a wall to take care of my family while we faced so much stress with the coronavirus. This program helped me so much.”

Stacie, The Arc Mid-Hudson

Through the program, The Arc Mid-Hudson continued to provide support to people while meeting the staffing requirements established by the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

We were able to provide a support service to our invaluable employees and ensure that their work-life balance remained intact with common interest. The Arc Mid-Hudson has provided a subsidy of up to $200 per child per week for up to 3 children per household. We coordinated this in conjunction with the CARES Act Childcare Scholarship.

DSPs were able to remain gainfully employed, receiving hazard pay to support their families while they protected the health and safety of their most precious assets. The stress of the pandemic itself was lessened by this offering of assistance.

“I think this was such an important support to provide to employees during this wild, stressful, scary time in the world!”

Shellie, The Arc Mid-Hudson

Steps To Implement A Similar DSP Program

  1. Identify the most critical needs of DSPs and assemble a committee to create an action plan
  2. Call, email, text childcare providers to establish availability and ensure that they are following CDC health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic
  3. Communicate with direct support professional staff members to provide information about the childcare initiative and share additional guidance

About The Arc Mid-Hudson

The Arc Mid-Hudson is a private not-for-profit agency founded by families in Ulster, Greene and Putnam Counties who believed that their children with disabilities should have the same opportunities as their peers. Supporting 1,800 people from preschool through adulthood, our mission is “To empower people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to achieve and experience the highest quality of life.” We are guided by the core values of respect, integrity, compassion and excellence.

2020 National DSP Recognition Week

For 2020 National DSP Recognition Week, NADSP and CQL are sharing specific organization-wide initiatives that lift up and bolster direct support professionals (DSPs) throughout the entire year. These include significant, long-lasting, and meaningful actions that have far-reaching effects on DSPs. By sharing these initiatives, other human service providers can both learn about and replicate these efforts to build up the DSP workforce. This is also an opportunity to highlight the programs your organization has developed to strengthen DSPs.

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Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.