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Dear Editor:

During the week of Sept. 9, 2018, we honor the compassion and dedication of our Direct Support Professionals (DSP) in the Intellectual Disabilities (ID) field.

DSP are the staff working daily to provide direct care to people that agencies such as The Arc of Cumberland & Perry Counties (CPARC) support. In addition to being Executive Director of CPARC, I am the parent of adult children with ID. Finding out your child has an ID causes feelings of isolation and fear for what the future holds. In time, you realize the importance of surrounding your family with a strong support system.

Ask any parent what they want for their child when they grow up, and they will likely answer with happy, healthy and safe. This is the charge of DSP. They ensure the well-being of individuals in their care. Duties include personal care, medical care, broadening the person’s connections in the community, employment training, behavior support and a wide variety of other support based on individual needs. Demands are high, but pay is low.

There is a recommendation from the President’s Committee on People with Intellectual Disability, which states “The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) through the Bureau of Labor Statistics should investigate ways to recognize “Direct Support Professional” as a distinct occupation title and provide routine labor statistical reporting on this occupation." This would be a monumental step to allow states to set adequate reimbursement rates for DSP wages, acknowledge the gravity of DSP responsibilities and allow DOL to track data and trends specific to this workforce.

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While the average reader’s life may not be impacted by ID, all can understand the need for a strong DSP workforce to provide quality care to our community’s most vulnerable neighbors. We thank all DSP for the difference they make in people’s lives.

Anne Couldridge

Executive Director

The Arc of Cumberland & Perry Counties (CPARC)

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