Employment and Community First CHOICES Workforce QuILTSS Initiative Survey 2019: Year Two Report

Tennessee East

2019 Direct Support Workforce State Overview

Organization Characteristics

100% of services are provided in the East region. Services from 20 organizations are provided in 1,130 service sites, including 49% family or individual homes, 25% agency or facility sites, 20% job sites, and 6% other sites. 1,706 people received services, and 1,950 DSPs, 210 FLSs, 96 managers, 217 administrative, and 369 other employees than those previously listed were employed.

DSP Employment

Of the 1,950 direct support professionals (DSPs) employed in 20 organizations, 1% were on call or temporary employees, 2% were not distinguished between full-time or part-time, 17% were part-time, and 80% were full-time. 46% of DSPs in 19 organizations worked across more than one service type. Service types may include ECF Choices, DIDD Waiver, Vocational Rehabilitation, and CHOICES (Non-ECF Choices).

DSP Vacancy

The overall vacancy rate for DSPs in 18 organizations was 13%. 24% of part-time positions and 15% of full-time positions were vacant.

DSP Turnover

Overall, there was 45% annual DSP turnover in 18 organizations reporting. Of those DSPs who left their positions in 2019, 45% left within 0-6 months of hire, and 40% left within 6-12 months of hire. The top three reasons for DSP departure were: 74% “found another job at another company,” 53% “no call/no show,” and 53% “was terminated/fired.”

DSP Wages

19 organizations reported wage data. The average hourly starting DSP wage was $9.87, the average hourly DSP wage was $10.60, and the highest DSP wage was $12.56. 16% of organizations paid DSPs different wages across service types.

DSP Benefits

On average, 39% of DSPs in an organization were enrolled in health care plans. For full-time DSPs, 69% of organizations offered paid time off, 20% offered sick leave, 20% offered paid vacation, and 63% offered health insurance. For part-time DSPs, 13% of organizations offered paid time off, 0% offered sick leave, 0% offered paid vacation, and 13% offered health insurance. Organizations that were unable to distinguish between part- and full-time DSPs answered for “all DSPs.” For all DSPs, 25% of organizations offered paid time off, 33% offered sick leave, 33% offered paid vacation, and 25% offered health insurance.


A total of 40,567 hours of overtime were paid out to DSPs in the last 30 days.

FLS Wages

The average starting frontline supervisor (FLS) annual salary was $30,487. The average FLS annual salary was $36,111. The highest FLS annual salary was $46,500.

FLS Turnover

There was 35% overall annual FLS turnover in 14 organizations reporting. Of those FLSs who left their positions in 2019, 29% of FLSs left within 0-6 months of hire, and 21% left within 6-12 months of hire.

FLS Vacancy

The overall vacancy rate for FLSs in 14 organizations was 15%.