Their Voice: Shortage of Direct Support Professionals Hinders Community Inclusion

shared courtesy of the Daily Herald

PROVO, Utah — Last week, throughout the country, service providers and families celebrated National Direct Support Provider Recognition week.

My column last Sunday focused on direct support professionals and the contribution they play to service providers and families. This week, I wanted to again focus on DSPs, but through another lens, which is the ongoing shortage of this workforce not only in Utah but throughout the country.

In February, M & L Special Needs Planning, LLC wrote a blog “Support Services Staff Shortage: A Discussion.” In this piece, they discussed the current state of affairs with respect to finding and retaining DSPs.

“Simply stated, the support services staff shortage in disability communities refers to the high turnover rates and lack of employees willing to work in the support services industry…” They included as contributing factors “…low wages and non-competitive aspects including no chance for advancement or performance based incentives that results in high turnover and fewer numbers of individuals entering the workforce.”

The American Network of Community Options and Resources expressed similar concerns in their 2017 report “Addressing the Disability Services Workforce Crisis of the 21st Century.” Similar to my column last week, ANCOR refers to DSPs as “the backbone of publicly funded long-term supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.”

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