ALEXANDRIA, VA. – On Thursday, the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act was reintroduced in the United States Congress. If passed, the bill would establish a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) for direct support professionals (DSPs).
ANCOR, which has long advocated for the establishment of a SOC for DSPs alongside the association’s coalition partners, applauds the reintroduction of this important legislation. By officially recognizing direct support as a profession, the legislation would advance a necessary next step in addressing the long-standing recruitment and retention crisis that has left too few professionals to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in home- and community-based settings.
As the result of the increasingly dire workforce crisis in community disability services, turnover and vacancy rates have skyrocketed. According to the most recent data from National Core Indicators, turnover among DSPs at the end of 2021 was 43.3 percent, while 16.5 percent of full-time direct support positions and 20.3 percent of part-time positions remained vacant. In turn, the ability of people with I/DD to access critical and often life-saving services has been severely hampered. ANCOR’s own research has found that 71 percent of case managers reported being unable to connect families with services, even after they were approved to seek services following months and sometimes years on a state waiting list.
Key to addressing this workforce crisis is a comprehensive mechanism to gather data on the direct support workforce. The creation of a distinct occupational classification for DSPs would enable the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to more accurately capture employment and wage data specific to the profession. It would also support state and federal agencies to make more informed policy decisions regarding the Medicaid HCBS program, including the determination of payment rates, which has negative and long-lasting effects on retention and recruitment within the DSP workforce.
ANCOR is especially grateful for the leadership of Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), as well as Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Joe Morelle (D-NY), for their sponsorship of this critically important legislation.
“When we eventually see the [Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act] become law, we will look back on it as a pivotal moment in the history of our service delivery system—a moment when we made a collective choice to undervaluing the services that connect people with I/DD to their communities,” said Shannon McCracken, ANCOR’s vice president for government relations. The work this legislation would do to create a standard occupational classification for direct support professionals is a crucial next step our country can take to address a decades-long workforce crisis that threatens access to community for people with disabilities. And, I can say confidently that we will eventually see this legislation across the finish lines because we have champions like Senators Collins and Hassan and Representatives Morelle and Fitzpatrick.”
ANCOR is eager to continue supporting these legislative champions as they advance this crucial legislative initiative, and we look forward to keeping the association’s members apprised of opportunities to take action.
For more than 50 years, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ancor.org) has been a leading advocate for the critical role service providers play in enriching the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). As a national nonprofit trade association, ANCOR represents 2,000+ organizations employing more than a half-million professionals who together serve more than a million individuals with I/DD. Our mission is to advance the ability of our members to support people with I/DD to fully participate in their communities.
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