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Distinguishing the Role of Direct Support Professionals

Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have reintroduced the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act which aims to revise the Standard Occupational Classification system to create a distinct code for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).

Let’s discuss what this means and how we could see the effects of this bill.

Direct Support Professionals provide support, supervision, education, and personal assistance to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They work with people receiving services to ensure they have a choice and make sure that their services properly support them in achieving higher levels of independence, inclusion, self-determination, and personal responsibility.

Currently, federal agencies use information collected through the Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system to review trends in the workforce. Direct Support Professionals are grouped in the broader category of “home health care aide,” which makes it impossible to examine the needs of their particular workforce.

According to the 2018 National Core Indicators Staff Stability Survey Report, Direct Support Professionals experienced a turnover rate of over 50%. If the Office of Management and Budget distinguished a separate Standard Occupational Classification for Direct Support Professionals, improved data collection would result in the following:

  • Direct Support Professionals would be recognized for their unique and often overlooked role in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • The federal government and states would be receiving accurate information related to trends for Direct Support Professionals, which would allow them to analyze the workforce shortage and create solutions.
  • Accurate information will help identify where there is a need for training programs for Direct Support Professionals. Once trained, employees can help with the needs of the local workforce.

Without this discrete occupational category, it is impossible to accurately track and report on the Direct Support Professionals workforce challenges. This lack of data results in instability in the lives of the people with disabilities who are receiving services due to the turnover rates. Their care becomes less personalized, which impacts the overall ability to reach their goals for independence.

Click here to sign a petition for designating a Standard Occupational Classification category for DSPs created by the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals in 2018.