The Sinking Boat Analogy

April 24, 2023
Posted By: Kelsey Mondor

For far too long the human service industry has had to advocate for fair wages for frontline workers supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Only for the minimum wage to be raised and bring us right back to where we started.

The shortage of direct support professionals (DSPs) has also been an ongoing issue as well. For years now, the national turnover rate has hovered around 50%. This turnover rate leads to ongoing job vacancies and overburdened staff. Did you know that it is not uncommon for direct care workers to have two or three jobs just to make ends meet?

Picture the human service industry as a boat floating in the ocean. Now picture that the boat with several holes. Over the years we have been bailing out water to keep our boat afloat.  While low wages are commonly a factor in high turnover (one of the several holes in our boat), what other factors can organizations address to combat turnover and support DSPs?

We believe in order to keep our boat afloat we have to continue to advocate and push for a truly livable wage, affordable healthcare, access to higher education and affordable housing for those who support people with disabilities. This workforce has been underpaid, undervalued and overburdened for far too long. Only then will we be able to start patching the holes in our boat and keep sailing on. We can do this by not only focusing on the wages but ensuring our workforce receives the benefits they not only need but deserve. This will finally turn a job in human services into a career in human services. It is the only way we can keep our boat afloat.

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