Frontline Initiative DSP Recognition

NADSP Supports DSP Fairness and Security Act


Mark Olson is president of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals.

In March 2007, legislation was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Lois Capps (D-CA) and Lee Terry (R-NE) entitled the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 1279). This bill allows states to secure additional federal Medicaid dollars in order to increase wages paid to direct support professionals (DSPs).

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), which includes DSPs and their allies, believes the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 1279) is long overdue. Unfortunately, DSPs are the very definition of “underpaid and overworked” and it is time for us to be recognized as the backbone of community human services programs across the nation. Nationally, the average wage of Direct Support Professionals is $8.86 per hour, which is not nearly enough to support our families and ourselves. Many of us are our family’s sole income-earner and a good number of us are as disenfranchised as the people we support.

These dollars represent a critical step towards reducing workforce turnover rates. Many people needing service in the community wake up each day and wonder whom, if anyone, will be available to meet their most basic needs. With turnover rates as high as 86% in some services and the highest turnover rates happening within the first three months of employment, is it any wonder that people with disabilities are stressed? It is very difficult to meet any desired goal when you are in a constant cycle of training new people to meet your needs. We ask Congress to consider someone in their life impacted by the work we do as primary “professional” caregivers. It may be a family member, the person bagging their groceries or processing their mortgage payment. It may be someone in their office, in their faith community or in their neighborhood. We ask each member of Congress to imagine living in that person’s shoes: Would you not want a consistent, qualified DSP in your life in order to support you in achieving your dreams?

We voice our concern and join with other stakeholders in reminding Congress that poor wage reimbursements jeopardize the quality of life for people with disabilities, DSPs and their families. We ask our entire Congress to value the work we do by supporting the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 1279) and make the lives of those we support as fulfilling as they can be.