By Mary Kay Rizzolo, CQL President and CEO
The issues are well-known across the human services field – low retention, struggling recruitment efforts, dismal wages, lacking career development opportunities, and more. Direct Support Professionals, along with the organizations that employ them, have been impacted by these issues in a decades-long crisis. We’ve shared the numbers before, but they’re worth highlighting again:
- $11.76 average hourly wage
- 46% average state-wide turnover rate
- 12% overall vacancy rate
- 38% of DSPs left their position in fewer than 6 months
- 15% of agencies provide DSPs with health insurance (NCI, 2018)
Understanding The Issues
There have been many publications, resources, and resources created to highlight issues impacting DSPs, along with what can be done to confront them. The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities devoted a recent annual report to detailing this topic, titled ‘America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis: Effects on People with Intellectual Disabilities, Families, Communities and the U.S. Economy.’
Earlier this year, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) released a report ‘Moving from Crisis to Stabilization: The Case for Professionalizing the Direct Support Workforce Through Credentialing,’ which shares information about how a national credentialing standard would positively transform the I/DD service delivery system.
The American Network of Community Options & Resources (ANCOR) and The Research and Training Center on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota (RTC) have developed a Direct Support Professional Toolkit, that provides guides, videos, and other information that you’ll find helpful.
In February 2019, CQL’s Director of Research, Carli Friedman, summarized findings from research she conducted in an article titled ‘The DSP Crisis: Reimbursement Rates, Retention, and Research.’ Accompanying this article were three one-page research and policy briefs to draw attention to DSP workforce issues as well as advocate for changes.
DSP Research Briefs
These research briefs will assist you in drawing attention to Direct Support Professional workforce issues. They can be helpful in your communications with policy makers, industry leadership, provider agencies, people receiving supports, families, and more.Learn More
Sharing Stories of Excellence
In addition to problematic and complex issues of wages, benefits, funding, professional advancement, turnover, etc., there are also significant shortcomings in how a DSPs’ position and responsibilities are understood, respected and recognized.
To confront this, every year in the month of September, one week is specifically devoted to acknowledging and honoring DSPs, for their dedicated work in supporting and enhancing the lives of people receiving services. This week is National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.
While it is critical that attention to the vast array of issues impacting the DSP workforce expands throughout the entire year, it is important that over the duration of this week, the entire human services field directs its focus solely on the impact of DSPs.
In celebrating 2019 National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week, CQL partnered with NADSP and ANCOR to mark the occasion. Our organizations collected stories of DSPs who are demonstrating excellence in their work. Below you will find CQL’s stories about DSPs from across the country who are supporting people to achieve their personally-defined outcomes, or you can visit NADSP’s Point of Interaction Blog to read their DSP Recognition Week articles about DSPs who embody the NADSP Code of Ethics and/or Competency Areas.
- Joshua Holland: A Cut Above The Rest
During an interview with a person receiving supports, Joshua discovered their desire to get a haircut at a barber shop for the very first time.
- Beth Triplett: A Positive Source Of Support
Beth has used the Personal Outcomes Measures® to help support people in improving opportunities for a more meaningful day.
- Diane Norby: Cooking Up Outcomes
Diane has found that people regularly share their desire to learn how to cook, and has supported those them throughout the entire process.
- Barbara Kostecke-Horton: Empowering People
Barbara learns about people’s goals through the Personal Outcome Measures®, often involving indicators related to choices, community, and friendships.
- Daniel Schertzer: A Meeting With The Mayor!
During Personal Outcome Measures® interviews, Daniel discovered that a number of people wanted to meet the mayor of their village.
- Carla Garrision Greene: Outcomes On The Ballot
Carla discovered Mary’s passion for the election process, and Mary made clear she wanted to vote in local and national elections.
- Caroline Lass: The Life Of The Community
Caroline has witnessed the importance of the indicator ‘People participate in the life of the community,’ and has a passion for supporting people in this area.
- Deja Kendricks: Creativity In Person-Centered Discovery
Deja was able to come up with some creative ways to support people in embracing the Personal Outcome Measures® and learn about their goals.
- Chelcie Jacobs: Dancing Away Shyness
Chelcie discovered that Nefertiti enjoyed dancing and took this as an opportunity to connect Nefertiti with others who shared her passion.
We are grateful for all the Direct Support Professionals who are creating a world of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people. Thank you for your dedication to your work, and especially to improving the quality of life for those you support.