In a significant step forward, S.1332, the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act, has been placed on the Senate legislative calendar, making it eligible for a full Senate floor vote. This follows the unanimous passage of the bill out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) during the summer.
The Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act, as approved by HSGAC, aims to address a crucial aspect of caregiving services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The legislation focuses on the creation of a Standard Occupational Classification for direct support professionals (DSPs), who play a vital role in providing essential services for people with I/DD.
DSPs contribute significantly to the well-being of individuals with I/DD, fostering independence and community inclusion through various services. These services encompass a broad spectrum, including coaching, career development, assistance in pursuing personal goals and aiding activities of daily living such as meal preparation, medication management, and communication support.
The key provision of the legislation involves directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to consider establishing a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) for DSPs. This step is seen as essential in addressing a longstanding workforce crisis that jeopardizes individuals with disabilities’ access to critical supports and services provided through the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program.
The HCBS program is instrumental in enabling individuals with disabilities to lead full and independent lives within their communities. The creation of a SOC for DSPs is recognized as a necessary initial measure to tackle the workforce challenges and ensure the continued availability of essential supports and services for people with I/DD.