Frontline Initiative Legislative Advocacy

The Real Scoop

Welcome to The Real Scoop. Clifford is a self-advocate who has been politically active for years. He’s here to give you his spin on how to deal with issues you face as you forge ahead in your role as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). Seth has been a DSP for many years, and he loves to give advice. He may ruffle your feathers, but hey, it’s for your own good! Clifford and Seth tackle this one with a few suggestions.

Take the Challenge

Dear Seth and Cliff, I’ve been a DSP for 10 years. I have been considering changing jobs lately because of the low pay and the frustration I feel trying to get services for the people I support. I love my job and I’ve decided I would like to try and make a difference in another way before I give up. I don’t know how to start trying to change laws about pay for DSPs and other issues related to the people I support. Where could I go to work with other people who want to lobby and learn more about the system? — Thank you, Not Giving Up

Dear Not Giving Up,

There has never been a better time for you and your colleagues to join the National Alliance of Direst Support Professionals (NADSP)! Your concerns are right on target with the goals of the NADSP. Check our member organizations and state contacts in our quarterly newsletter, Frontline Initiative. You can see us on the Web at Find your state contact and see how you can help. Between your job and your new found self-advocacy, you will be too busy and excited to even think of another profession. We don’t want to lose you and you have valuable knowledge and skills that can be used to make change for all DSPs. — Seth

Dear Not Giving Up,

First, I think you need to go to your agency and tell them your involvement with your legislature will benefit them as a provider. Give them the opportunity to tell you what their concerns are and they will be more likely to pay your registration fee, give you paid time off and mileage reimbursement for a day at the Capitol. Another thing to think about is bringing a self-advocate that you support with you. Going to lobby with a self-advocate allows you to build a relationship with those you support, and gives them an opportunity to lobby for issues that are important to them. I encourage you to take on this challenge. The lawmakers do not know what you need unless they are told and you are the expert on what is important to DSPs. In order to get support and information, contact your state office of Arc. They may have groups that get together to discuss the issues that are in the legislature and you can get on an action alert network so that you can be informed about the issues that concern you and the people you support and their families. — Cliff