On June 13, a coalition of disability advocates, providers, community non-profit organizations and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) testified in a Washington, DC city council on local legislation to increase DSP wages. Esme Grewal, ANCOR Vice President of Government Relations, participated in the proceedings to support our DC members and share the national perspective.
As quoted in Street Sense:
“Grewal said it is not uncommon in the United States for direct support professionals to work more than one job to adequately support themselves.
The national annual turnover rate for direct support professionals is about 45 percent, according to a report submitted to President Trump on the direct support workforce crisis in the United States. Grewal said high turnover means that service providers are frequently working to replace staff and provide consistent care to their clients.
‘That is not only just problematic for any workforce, it’s particularly problematic for a workforce that provides life-line services to people with significant disabilities,’ Grewal said.
Grewal said direct support professionals are typically paid no more than minimum wage. This makes it difficult for direct professionals to live near the people they serve if they are in the metro area, where the cost of living is more expensive.
Several public witnesses raised concerns about the cost of living in D.C. while working as a direct support professional. Deneen Miller, who works for My Own Place, said at the public hearing that it is difficult to live a “decent life” with the current salary for most direct support professionals. Similarly, Jade Manning, who works for one of the main providers of DSP assistance in D.C., RCM of Washington, said the current pay rate for direct support professionals in D.C. does not provide a “livable wage” to maintain a home in D.C. on top of the cost of childcare, car insurance, and health insurance.
‘We are not benefited when our workforce is required to have an additional job and not get that deserved rest from these demanding jobs,’ she said. ‘Nobody benefits – not the worker, not the employer, and certainly not the person with a disability receiving the services.’
Ian Paregol, the executive director for the D.C. Coalition of Disability Service Providers, said the direct support professional workforce crisis has been apparent for at least two years. The turnover rate this year for direct support professionals in Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (IDD) – providers who work with individuals with either an intellectual or developmental disability – in the District was 18.6 percent through June and projected to be almost 40 percent by the end of the year. Comparatively, he said the turnover rate for 2018 was 22.8 percent, according to a survey conducted by the D.C. Coalition of Disability Service Providers of its members.”