The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2022
If the ANCOR Foundation’s Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign were a movie trilogy, 2019 was its coming of age story.
Since its humble beginnings, this multiyear effort has done critical work to lift up the successes of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the providers who are essential to those successes. With our soft launch in 2017, we entered our infancy, getting our legs and seeking to understand our role in the world around us. By the time of ANCOR’s Annual Conference in April 2018, Included. Supported. Empowered. was deep into its adolescence—the markers of adulthood were visible, but the initiative hadn’t quite yet reached maturation.
By 2019, there was no doubt that Included. Supported. Empowered. had entered adulthood. It’s been a banner year for this collective effort…and it ain’t over yet! Here are just a few of the milestones we’ve reached so far this year:
- In January, we partnered with our friends at United Cerebral Palsy to publish the Case for Inclusion 2019, which assesses how well state Medicaid programs are supporting people with I/DD. The report was featured in more than 75 news outlets throughout the US, drawing attention to the significant need to invest in programs that support community inclusion.
- In May, we honored nearly six dozen Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) in Portland, Oregon, with the presentation of the 2019 DSP of the Year Awards. Know a rock star DSP who deserves recognition? Nominations for the 2020 awards are being accepted through November 30!
- In June, we launched the Included. Supported. Empowered. Toolkit, a compendium of resources that serve as the bridge between the campaign’s stories and your advocacy needs.
- In August, we reached our 10,000th Facebook Follower! Of course, 10,000 seemed really big at the time, but now we’re up to 12,000. Are you one of them? If not, start following us today to show your friends and colleagues what we’re all about.
- In October, we placed our 100th media story, which spotlighted 2019 Arizona DSP of the Year Tommie Gross and her journey as a deaf DSP supporting people with a range of disabilities. To date, we’ve been responsible for stories like Tommie’s appearing in more than 1,100 news outlets from coast to coast.
- In November, we headed to New Hampshire to follow 2020 presidential candidates and ask them questions about their plans for alleviating the direct support workforce crisis. Check out the highlights on our Medium publication!
These milestones represent just a small sampling of all we’ve accomplished this year…and it ain’t over yet!
Of course, we would never have achieved these accomplishments on our own. It has been the collective energy—of the campaign’s supporters, of advocates, of disability champions writ large—that has breathed life into this effort to make possible the wide array of achievements under our belt.
It is also this collective energy that will make possible all that is to come. And just as we expect more to come in 2019 because it ain’t over yet, we look forward to reaching new heights as Included. Supported. Empowered. enters its final year, because—you guessed it—it ain’t over yet!
If this campaign reached adulthood in 2019, then 2020 is the year we enter our prime; think of it as the Sex in the City of Included. Supported. Empowered. (Okay, okay…I’m trying too hard to extend this metaphor, but it really is true!) In our home stretch, we have much to look forward to, including:
- Even more widespread media coverage that elevates the narrative about what’s possible when we invest in providers and their efforts to build truly inclusive communities.
- More opportunities to lend your voice to our collective vision, such as by leveraging the 2020 elections and by equipping yourself with new data through the forthcoming Case for Inclusion 2020.
- The culmination of the Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign—concurrent with ANCOR’s 50th anniversary—which will be marked with a gala to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished together and to chart a course for the next 50 years of inclusion. Mark your calendars for October 13 in Washington, DC, and be on the lookout for more information in early 2020.
The past two years of Included. Supported. Empowered. have been nothing short of inspiring…and it ain’t over yet! Thank you for being on this journey with us—we couldn’t do it without you.
Sean Luechtefeld is Communications Director for ANCOR and the ANCOR Foundation.