The IssuesImage Banner

The Issues

You are here

The Issues

Launched in 2001, ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign has taken root and grown into a multi-faceted program seeking public support to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by obtaining the resources to recruit, train and a sustainable direct support workforce. Its overall objective is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by obtaining the resources to recruit, train and retain a sustainable direct support workforce.

In 2007, Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Lois Capps (D-CA) re-introduced the Direct Support Fairness and Security Act (H.R. 1279) into the 110th Congress. With this federal legislation pending, ANCOR is once again calling on families, DSPs, providers and friends to use their influence as a constituent and build a grassroots network to garner Congressional sponsors for the bill.

This bill gives states a much-needed option to secure additional federal dollars for the Direct Support Professional workforce. These dollars represent a critical first step towards reducing workforce turnover rates as high as 55% in residential settings while answering the growing demand for supports.

Nationwide, there are approximately 1.4 million individuals who require professional support in order to live and work in their own communities rather than an institution. Unfortunately, there are only about 875,000 direct support workers. Factor in the growing number of baby boomers who will also be requiring assistance; the situation is bleak.

To meet the increasing need for direct support workers, our society must create a livable wage base to mirror the high quality of service and professionalism that we expect. ANCOR is working to make a better living wage a reality for direct support professionals. Everyone can help by voicing their concern to their legislators.

For information on how you can participate, get involved. To learn more about what’s at stake, read the background information. For more on recent legislative activity, stay current with legislative news.

2011 National Advocacy Campaign Mission and Objectives

Mission

To enhance the lives of all people with disabilities who rely on long term supports and services by obtaining the resources to recruit, train and retain a highly qualified and sustainable workforce.

Objectives

  • Implement a national policy and solutions to address the workforce shortage and financing issues through the engagement of community service providers, members of the direct support workforce, policy makers at the state and federal level, and other stakeholders.
  • Obtain adequate public funding to provide competitive wages, benefits, training and career development for the long-term supports and services workforce.
  • Advance and promote technologies and other innovations that maximize human resources, assuage workforce demands, and allow for efficiencies, enhancements, and flexibility in the delivery of supports and services.

Background

The Community Living Commitment

We've come along way from "it used to be," when the warehousing of people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities was painfully routine. Since 1967, our nation has made a commitment to close institutional facilities and provide opportunities for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to enjoy community living.

Today, seasoned professionals and families alike are deeply grateful for the advances of self-determination that many Americans with developmental disabilities enjoy through living and working within their communities.

However, all this is in danger now. There is a real and immediate workforce shortage jeopardizing the quality of life for more than one million Americans with developmental disabilities seeking community integration. At risk are the everyday responsibilities undertaken by the nearly 875,000 Direct Support Professionals (DSP) on behalf of people with disabilities, the elderly, the frail and the infirm.

But, perhaps the greatest risk is the ability to attract dedicated and high quality workers into this very special career -- Direct Support Professionals. By 2020, the number of individuals with intellectual disabilities is anticipated to grow to 1.4 million. , The number of DSPs will need to increase to 1.2 million to address the needs of these individuals.

DSP Services

DSPs offer a wide range of supportive services on a day-to-day basis so that individuals with developmental disabilities can live and work in their communities. Services include: habilitation, health needs, personal care and hygiene, employment, transportation, recreation, housekeeping and other home management-related supports and services. Even though these services are crucial to their well-being, Medicaid funding for people with developmental disabilities is being threatened. Eventually, this will force them back into institutions where they, forfeit their dignity, pride and means of contributing to society.

The Medicaid Dilemma

The Medicaid cutback issue is fraught with deep societal implications.

  • Many DSPs are compassionate, selfless, heads of households of various races and ethnicities, most of whom work at least two jobs in order to feed their children and pay their rent.
  • The reduction in Medicaid will not only eliminate services for individuals with disabilities, it will further depress DSP wages, pushing these quiet heroes and their children into poverty and onto America's welfare roles.
  • The push to reduce Medicaid funding is ludicrous and dangerous for the growing number of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who depend on DSPs services.
  • Benefits provided for DSPs are roughly 3 1⁄2 times less than that of other workers and less than half of those who work in private nursing homes.
  • Both the dollar amount and percentage increase in hourly wage rates for private direct support workers are far below that of comparable job categories as well as the national minimum wage.

Medicaid funding needs to be increased in order to grow and retain a stable, quality DSP workforce. Our states must give private providers the opportunity to fairly compensate the DSPs who make such a huge difference in the lives of so many. It is incumbent upon all of us to t address the workforce training, retention and funding issues that are jeopardizing community-based supports and services for these disenfranchised citizens.

Pending Legislation

In 2007, Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Lois Capps (D-CA) re-introduced the Direct Support Fairness and Security Act (H.R. 1279) into the 110th Congress. With this federal legislation pending, ANCOR is leading the call or the charge families, DSPs, providers and friends to use their influence as constituents and build a grassroots network to garner additional Congressional support for the bill.

This bill gives states a much-needed option to secure additional federal dollars for the Direct Support Professional workforce. These dollars represent a critical first step towards reducing workforce turnover rates as high as 86% in residential settings while answering the growing demand for more direct support professional.

To meet the increasing need for direct support workers, our society must create a livable wage base to mirror the high quality of service and professionalism that we expect. ANCOR is working to make this a reality for direct support professionals. Everyone can help by making their voice heard voicing their concern to their legislators.

For information on how you can participate, get involved. For more on recent legislative activity, stay current with legislative news.