Written by Superintendent Leigh Anne Wenning
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) or providers are the backbone to the developmental disabilities (DD) service system. They are a critical piece, and without them, people with DD go without services that they need.
The Shelby County Board of DD does not typically provide direct services in homes or day programs to people with DD directly. We coordinate and fund these direct services through our Service and Support Administrators (SSAs), in conjunction with Medicaid. Our SSAs work with individuals with DD and their advocates to select a DSP or a provider to carry out the services that are needed by the individual.
The shortage of DSPs in Ohio is at a critical point. One of the methods the DD system is taking to address the shortage of providers is to advocate for higher wages. The DSP wage is tied directly to the Medicaid program, which means our advocacy for higher wages has to take place at the state level. Advocates from around the state have been providing testimony to our state legislators about the need for higher wages for several months now. The hope is that the increase will be included in the governor’s upcoming budget.
As a former DSP myself, I can tell you that the job is beyond rewarding. I can also tell you that a lot is asked of DSPs. They are responsible for the care and support of another human, who is likely requiring some sort of specialized care. In addition to basic care, they are often responsible for documentation, transportation, medication administration, and many other services written into the individual’s service plan.
It is my goal that we make it as easy as possible to be a DSP in Shelby County. We have dedicated provider support staff who can link a DSP to an agency provider or walk a DSP through the independent provider certification process and make sure they have the support needed to continue in this rewarding career. We have SSAs who know the individuals well and can collaborate with DSPs and providers to make sure people’s needs are met. We will continue to do our part locally, and it is my hope that a wage increase will keep the providers working in the field and attract new ones as well.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about being a DSP, either for an agency or independently, please email Jeff Coaty at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-497-8155.