Vital Workforce Honored During Direct Support Professionals Week

Events, awards and campaigns are planned to recognize and raise the status of professional caregivers during Direct Support Professionals Week

Article Highlights:
  • The U.S. Senate has designed the week beginning Sept. 12, 2010, as the third annual National Direct Support Professionals Week.
  • Direct support professionals (DSPs) are people who help others, including those with disabilities and the elderly, live fully and contribute to their communities.
  • The government estimates one million new DSPs will be needed by 2016, a critical shortage made worse by low pay and high turnover.
  • Events planned for this week include award ceremonies, a film festival, a conference, and a national advocacy campaign kickoff to raise awareness and improve opportunities for DSPs.
by Miriam Davidson on September 13, 2010 - 3:11pm

Do you know an outstanding professional caregiver?  This would be a good week to show some special appreciation for the important work he or she does.

Spurred on by organizations that represent professional caregivers, the United States Senate has declared the week starting Sept. 12, 2010, to be the third annual National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week. Events are planned across the country to celebrate and raise awareness of the work of direct support professionals, a group that includes personal care attendants and home health aides.

Direct support professionals (DSPs) are essential to the daily lives and well-being of millions of Americans, yet low pay, limited training, and low status can cause high levels of stress, burnout and turnover.

Two organizations, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) are advocating for better income, training and respect for these under-appreciated yet vital workers, in a campaign that has special relevance for those whose very lives may depend on a DSP.

Activities nationwide

In addition to the Senate proclamation, the NADSP and ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign have activities planned in a number of states. Ohio is hosting the Sprout Film Festival, and Minnesota will be presenting two annual DSP Awards. New York will release a video public service announcement featuring DSPs on the new web site

A DSPs-to-DC event hosted by ANCOR is bringing DSPs to the nation’s capital to discuss policy affecting the profession and develop advocacy skills. In some states, such as Florida, DSPs and others are asking governors and other state leaders to issue statements in support of DSP Recognition Week and the Senate Resolution. So far 27 governors have made proclamations supporting the Resolution.

Senate resolution

Senate Resolution 558, co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), reads in part:

“The Senate ... recognizes the dedication and vital role of direct support professionals in enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities of all ages; appreciates the contribution of direct support professionals in supporting the needs that reach beyond the capacities of millions of families in the United States; commends direct support professionals as integral in supporting the long-term support and services system of the United States; and finds that the successful implementation of the public policies of the United States depends on the dedication of direct support professionals."

Lisa Burck, president of NADSP, says the Senate acknowledgment is significant to her organization and to ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign as they work to increase funding and training for DSPs and to improve supports and services for people with disabilities. 

The ongoing shortage of DSPs, combined with the aging of the nation, needs immediate attention from our nation’s policymakers, Burck says. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that one million new DSPs will be needed by 2016.


The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals works to strengthen the direct support workforce through education, advocacy, and collaboration, and to promote reform that provides incentives for improved education, increased compensation and access to career pathways for DSPs. Its programs include the Direct Support Professional Credentialing Program, the DSP Code of Ethics, and the Moving Mountains Award for organizations demonstrating best practices in workforce development.

ANCOR is a national association representing more than 850 private providers of community living and employment supports and services to more than 400,000 individuals with disabilities. As a nonprofit organization, ANCOR advocates for the needs and interests of private providers employing nearly half a million DSPs. Through its National Advocacy Campaign, ANCOR seeks to obtain the resources to recruit, train and retain a sustainable direct support workforce.

For more information

Read the full text of the Senate Resolution on the Library of Congress site.

For more about finding and managing personal care assistants, see Quest, March 2007, Where Are All the PCAs? and Is Your PCA Driving You Crazy?

Quest readers recognize some outstanding caregivers in My Favorite PCA.

Tips on finding and employing a live-in caregiver can be found at A Happy Compromise: Tips for achieving quality of life and independence by living with paid personal attendants and their familes and Despite the Challenge, People Love Their Live-Ins

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals website is

The American Network of Community Options and Resources website is

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