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The Issues

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The Issues

Launched in 2001, ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign has 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.

In March 2017, ANCOR brought together national disability organizations and workforce experts to preview its new report entitled, Addressing the Disability Services Workforce Crisis of the 21st Century. Participants of ANCOR’s March 23rd Workforce Summit also discussed potential policy solutions moving forward.

ANCOR’s report compiles the latest data on the direct support professional (DSP) workforce, offers a historical overview of the workforce crisis, and offers solutions on how it can be addressed.

“For almost fifty years, ANCOR has represented providers of disability services in Washington, DC and watched the workforce crisis grow into a public health crisis,” said ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill, “We are proud of the strides we have made in Congress and with previous Administrations, but this report marks the beginning of an even stronger movement to take measurable steps toward addressing the workforce crisis.”

ANCOR members and leaders of ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign, Daryn Demeritt and Chris Sparks, led ANCOR membership in ensuring the report was comprehensive and offered concrete solutions.

“The DSP crisis is profound and we see it in our daily operations across the country,” said Demeritt of ResCare based in Kentucky, “ANCOR’s report comes at a pivotal moment when we need to take action and cannot risk ignoring the impact it has on the quality of services provided to Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.“

“This is an instance where failure is not an option,” added Sparks of Exceptional Person, Inc. (EPI) in Iowa, “Millions of people with disabilities rely on DSPs so that they can access their communities, engage with their families and friends, and participate in the workforce themselves.  There are not enough DSPs to meet the need, and the waiting lists for these services are only growing. ANCOR’s report offers the solutions that need to be harnessed now to avoid decline of this successful program.”

Click here to read the Executive Summary of the ANCOR Workforce Report

Click here to access the full ANCOR Workforce Report

Click here to visit ANCOR’s Workforce Website

National Advocacy Campaign Mission and Objectives


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.


  • 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.


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.