Frontline Initiative Employment Supports

Frontline notes

Welcome to the employment supports issue of Frontline Initiative. “What do you do?” This is often the first question we ask when we meet a new person. Our jobs are an important part of who we are. But people with disabilities still experience high levels of unemployment and underemployment. This means less income, more poverty, and less experience of making a valued contribution to one’s community. This issue of Frontline Initiative highlights the roles direct support professionals (DSPs) play in supporting people with disabilities to find and keep satisfying employment.

We are proud to offer this Frontline Initiative in collaboration with the Alliance for Full Participation (AFP), highlighting the upcoming November 2011 Employment Summit and the “Real Jobs — It’s Everybody’s Business” Campaign. The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) is a founding member of the Alliance for Full Participation, and shares AFP’s mission of doubling the employment rate for people with disabilities by 2015. We believe that DSPs can and will play an essential role in helping people with disabilities achieve this goal, and helping communities develop more inclusive attitudes and practices.

In this Frontline Initiative, DSP Lindsay Short of DSPAM, NADSP’s Minnesota chapter, offers some insights on providing effective employment supports. Derek Nord and Rachael Sarto highlight the specific skills and knowledge needed to successfully support a person in achieving and maintaining community employment. Melissa Clark tells her story of successful self-employment through her business, Lissie’s Luv Yums, and describes the supports she has received from Sr. Johnelle Howanach. Frontline Resources offer additional web sites, organizations, and articles to learn more about employment supports and employment for people with disabilities.

Policy advocacy to promote professionalization of DSPs remains core to NADSP’s mission, and will influence available employment supports across the nation. In this issue we have included an update on Direct Support Professional Recognition Week 2010, the Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act of 2010, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities Envisioning the Future Summits of Fall 2010, and the AFP Employment Summit in November 2011. NADSP is also pleased to announce the development of a DSP–Specialist credential in Employment Supports, and the new DSP Apprenticeship Program through the Department of Labor. 

We hope you will find this issue a valuable resource on the topic of employment supports.