Friday, September 10, 2010

Good News Friday!

The week beginning September 12 has been designated as “National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week” by the U.S. Senate. The designation recognizes the invaluable supports Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) provide and the difference this workforce makes in the lives of Americans with disabilities.

Direct Support Professionals, often referred to as caregivers, personal assistants, or home care aides, are the lynchpin to the ultimate success or failure of community-based long-term supports. DSP workers build close, trusted relationships with the millions of seniors and people with disabilities they assist each day. They work in community settings assisting people with disabilities with medications, preparing and eating meals, dressing, mobility, and handling daily affairs.

Unfortunately, these critical supports are being threatened by a growing workforce crisis. The U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that the average U.S. worker makes about $16.75 an hour, while the average DSP makes about $9.26 an hour for the close, nurturing, and intimate critical support they provide. Many DSPs work two jobs to make ends meet for their own families. The daily challenges these front-line workers face are both physically and emotionally demanding. Inadequate wages have led to high turnover (as high as 86% in some residential settings) and ongoing vacancies in the direct support workforce.

Despite these significant challenges, we are so fortunate here at Imagine! to have so many dedicated, talented, and passionate people who are willing not only to take on this difficult job, but to excel at it.

In anticipation of DSP Recognition Week, I’d like to use this space to acknowledge all of the DSPs that work here at Imagine! or at one of the many provider organizations we partner with.

To all of our local DSPs: Thank you for your commitment to some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens. I am humbled by your work ethic, compassion, and creativity. You inspire me every day.

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