Program Profile

Impact Feature Issue on Direct Support Workforce Development

NTIFFS Profile #1: Orange Grove Center


Jenny Foster is the Director of Compliance and Training at Orange Grove Center, Chattanooga, TN.

Despite being the key to the delivery of quality care in the community, Frontline Supervisors have historically been under-appreciated and underdeveloped. Orange Grove Center, an agency with over a half a century of distinguished leadership in the support of individuals with developmental disabilities, recently seized an opportunity to strengthen its Frontline Supervisors. Selected as one of five organizations in the country to participate in NTIFFS, Orange Grove made a commitment to address its problems with staff recruitment and retention. At the core of our commitment was a self-appraisal that questioned our commitment, our mission, and the depth of our skill sets. With the realization that our Frontline Supervisors, house managers, and supported living companions were overwhelmed, over-burdened, and over-extended we welcomed the practical programmatic tools provided by the “Removing the Revolving Door” curriculum used in the project. Supervisors were groomed in methods of providing ownership to scores of DSPs, the true “delivery king pins” in any human service organization. The DSPs were motivated to see firsthand how their actions, methods, and strategies affected the lives of the people they supported. The supervisors began to support, not intimidate, the staff, encouraging true working partnerships and providing environments that encouraged and invited DSP input and viewpoints. Supervisor use of Realistic Job Previews, participatory house meetings, and opportunities for meaningful contributions to individual support plans reinvigorated, re-motivated and re-energized the DSPs. The need for rewarding staff diligence and achievement was realized through the adoption of the Tier Program, a board-supported approach to merit pay incentives based on mastery of needed skills. The creation of the novel DSP Games, an Olympic-like event allowing staff to compete in games designed to highlight their skills was the icing on the cake. Our outcomes testify to our success – we have finally tamed the beasts of retention, recruitment and staff esteem. We believe that we have begun to create an environment that encourages dedication and commitment, and that provides an opportunity for individuals to be engaged in a profession that clearly makes a “difference.”