A stable workforce of caring, competent, creative, well-compensated, and qualified Direct Support Professionals is essential to providing safe, high quality and effective supports and services for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Simply stated, DSPs are incredibly talented professionals who form the foundation of all The Arc New York provides. We cannot do what we do without them.
Provider agencies have consistently high vacancy rates for direct care staff. In addition, the National Core Indicators showed that Direct Support Professionals have a high turnover rate. Without a robust and stable workforce we are not able to consistently meet the high standards that people receiving services in our care
A lack of sound data compounds the problem. Federal agencies use data collected through the Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system to analyze workforce trends, but this system does not provide an accurate picture of current Direct Support Professional workforce challenges. This system classifies Direct Support Professionals under the broader category of “home health care aide,” which includes all home health care occupations. As a result, it is impossible to accurately track and report workforce trends for Direct Support Professionals, often resulting in the underreporting of workforce needs and regional workforce shortages.
It is The Arc New York’s position that:
- A living wage and benefits sufficient for economic security are vital in order to attract and retain a qualified workforce to fully support people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities;
- All Direct Support Professionals (DSP) deserve competitive pay and equivalent pay for the same work across the industry;
- New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)must revise the Standard Occupational Classification system to establish a separate code for Direct Support Professionals, ensuring better data on these pressing workforce challenges;
- Relevant funding sources must support provider agencies in delivering high quality, certificate-based training which covers the essential knowledge, ethical principles and practices, and skills necessary for effective direct care support;
- Training must ensure that Direct Support Professionals be educated in the philosophy and values that persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities are members of the community and should have every opportunity for choice and control over their lives;
- Providers must foster the professional and personal development of Direct Support Professionals by providing access to continuing education, training, genuine career road maps, and professional advancement opportunities;
- Continuation, expansion, and funding of professional certification programs must be supported and funded by local, state, and federal policymakers and agencies;
- National, state and local private and public entities must engage in policy initiatives that facilitate employment placement and offer financial supports as needed to increase the number of people employed in direct support work;
- Implement a statewide BOCES High School Program to introduce the direct support profession to new potential workforce candidates as has been done for Nurse Assistants, Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides;
- Strong regional relationships with 2 and 4-year colleges and universities, BOCES, high schools and civic association agencies should be cultivated to develop a solid pipeline for DSP recruitment and professional development;
- Staff assignments of Direct Support Professionals must be thoroughly evaluated in order to minimize unnecessary transfers and prevent the resulting disruption of the continuity of service to persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities;
- A work environment must be provided that will foster optimum employee satisfaction;
- We monitor factors contributing to DSPs’ working environment including availability in their communities of public transportation, child and elder care, health care, and affordable housing;
- We maintain awareness of competitive forces in the labor market, including trends in employee benefits (e.g., sick time, personal time off, healthcare and retirement) and minimum wage.