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

Tennessee Middle

2019 Direct Support Workforce State Overview

Organization Characteristics

4% of services are provided in the East region, 93% in the Middle region, and 3% in the West region. Services from 32 organizations are provided in 1,711 service sites, including 46% family or individual homes, 27% agency or facility sites, 15% job sites, and 12% other sites. 7,404 people received services, and 5,481 DSPs, 379 FLSs, 21 managers, 68 administrative, and 544 other employees than those previously listed were employed.

DSP Employment

Of the 5,481 direct support professionals (DSPs) employed in 33 organizations, 1% were on call or temporary employees, 7% were not distinguished between full-time or part-time, 33% were part-time, and 59% were full-time. 57% of DSPs in 31 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 30 organizations was 14%. 18% of part-time positions and 11% of full-time positions were vacant.

DSP Turnover

Overall, there was 42% annual DSP turnover in 30 organizations reporting. Of those DSPs who left their positions in 2019, 53% left within 0-6 months of hire, and 30% left within 6-12 months of hire. The top three reasons for DSP departure were: 69% “found another job at another company,” 59% “no call/no show,” and 41% “pay too low, needed better pay.”

DSP Wages

32 organizations reported wage data. The average hourly starting DSP wage was $10.29, the average hourly DSP wage was $10.98, and the highest DSP wage was $13.94. 16% of organizations paid DSPs different wages across service types.

DSP Benefits

On average, 41% of DSPs in an organization were enrolled in health care plans. For full-time DSPs, 57% of organizations offered paid time off, 30% offered sick leave, 40% offered paid vacation, and 91% offered health insurance. For part-time DSPs, 9% of organizations offered paid time off, 10% offered sick leave, 20% offered paid vacation, and 17% offered health insurance. Organizations that were unable to distinguish between part- and full-time DSPs answered for “all DSPs.” For all DSPs, 14% of organizations offered paid time off, 17% offered sick leave, 17% offered paid vacation, and 43% offered health insurance.


A total of 75,362 hours of overtime were paid out to DSPs in the last 30 days.

FLS Wages

The average starting frontline supervisor (FLS) annual salary was $31,322. The average FLS annual salary was $35,003. The highest FLS annual salary was $43,842.

FLS Turnover

There was 24% overall annual FLS turnover in 28 organizations reporting. Of those FLSs who left their positions in 2019, 31% of FLSs left within 0-6 months of hire, and 35% left within 6-12 months of hire.

FLS Vacancy

The overall vacancy rate for FLSs in 28 organizations was 9%.