This week is Advocacy Week at ANCOR, our national trade association that represents more than 1,400 community providers of services to people with disabilities. We are joining them in bringing much-needed attention to the issues that are facing the human services industry today – most notably, the workforce crisis in disability supports.
It is important to us to highlight the good work being done by the professionals in our industry every day – yet high turnover rate is destabilizing critical supports for individuals with disabilities. Recruitment and retention challenges are leaving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities vulnerable to losing support in the most important aspects of their lives – work, home and health.
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are the lifeline of the industry. They are frontline staff who are providing emotional support, facilitating recreational opportunities, teaching essential life skills, administering medical interventions, communicating with healthcare providers and families, and offering the support required for folks with disabilities to live as independently as possible.
These professionals, funded primarily through Medicaid, help people live life like everyone else. They accomplish this through job coaching, supporting daily activities like grocery shopping or transportation, and by offering critical care for behavioral needs such as helping someone through an anxiety attack.
Despite all this, difficulties attracting and retaining DSPs have reached a crisis level:
- The national DSP turnover rate is 45%
- 55% of DSPs who leave their positions do so within their first year on the job
- Low wages and minimal benefits caused by fixed Medicaid rates are significant reasons for this turnover, although there are many other contributing factors
Lacking a stable workforce not only harms individuals with disabilities and their families, but also can lead to increased institutionalization and high costs to states and federal government. Support from Direct Support Professionals helps people with disabilities live independently or with their families or peers rather than in costlier state-run institutions.
Join in the advocacy efforts by reaching out to your members of Congress!
For more information about ANCOR, click here.