It is not too late to register for NADSP’s Advocacy Symposium. On May 3 and May 4, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) will embark on its second national advocacy event to bring the direct support professional (DSP) perspective to the forefront of Congress and the Administration during a time of unprecedented workforce challenges. Hardships from the pandemic and recent legislation have provided new insights and opportunities for the direct support workforce that supports people with disabilities.
NADSP recognizes the previous absence and critical importance of lifting the voices of DSPs to federal policy-makers so that public policy can be informed by the people who are on the front-lines of supporting people with disabilities to live, work, and thrive in the community. On April 13, 2023, NADSP will provide DSPs from all across the country comprehensive advocacy virtual training. (No worries if you are registering late, as this training was recorded.) This will lead up to the 1.5-day virtual event in May that will culminate with virtual meetings with Congressional leaders and staff to educate and advocate on NADSP’s public policy priorities for 2023.
Advocacy Symposium and Legislative Meetings Training
Wednesday, May 3, 2023, 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm ET
State Team Meetings will extend beyond 4:30 pm ET
Thursday, May 4, 2023, Time will vary by state and district
After registering, all individuals will receive a confirmation that they have registered. Final meeting times will be shared on March 4 from Soapbox Consulting. Please note that your meeting time will depend on your Zip Code and Congressional District.
RCPA members participated last year, and the event was a great success. If you have any questions regarding the event, please contact Carol Ferenz.
In early March 2022, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) embarked on its first ever national advocacy event, the 2022 Advocacy Symposium, Amplifying The Voices Of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). Attendees participated in over 250 meetings with legislative staff to share the perspective of direct support professionals to the forefront of Congress during a time of unprecedented workforce challenges. The result of our attendees’ advocacy culminated in additional sponsors to the House of Representatives and US Senate bills regarding establishing a Standard Occupation Classification within the Bureau of Statistics for direct support professionals (S. 1437 / H.R. 4779).
NADSP is excited to announce the return of the Advocacy Symposium on May 3 – 4, 2023! Ahead of this two-day virtual event, attendees will receive comprehensive advocacy training along with planning sessions with state leaders. The success of our first Advocacy Symposium is directly a result of and informed by the people who are on the frontlines of supporting people with disabilities to live, work, and thrive in the community.
We’re looking forward to amplifying even more direct support professional voices in 2023. This event is free and open to direct support professionals, frontline supervisors, self-advocates, family members, and people with disabilities. Registration for this event will open on February 28.
NADSP’s Current 2023 Policy Priorities:
It’s official! The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals’ Annual Conference is back in person in 2023. For the first time since 2019, NADSP will host a two-day in-person conference with keynotes, breakout sessions, and opportunities to celebrate, connect, and learn the leading developments in the workforce.
On September 8, 2023, the Sixth Annual NADSP Conference will commence at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square. Additional details, including a request for session proposals, hotel booking information, and sponsorship opportunities, will be shared in the next few weeks.
Through a partnership of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), the Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration, and the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the Moving Mountains Award recognizes organizations using leading practices in direct support workforce development that result in improved outcomes for people with disabilities. Organizations applying for the award are required to demonstrate how their workforce practices and philosophy align with the key principles of NADSP. These principles are:
Applications are now being accepted for the 2023 Moving Mountains Award. The winning organization(s) will be honored and will share their initiatives during the ANCOR Annual Conference on April 24–26, 2023, in Chicago. Winners will be notified in advance. Applications are due on Friday, December 2, 2022, by 11:59 pm CST via electronic submission.
If you have questions regarding the completion of the application, please email the Moving Mountains Coordinators. To learn more about the awards, visit here. For information on previous award winners, visit the Moving Mountains Award Past Winners page.
The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) shared this report:
Direct Support Workforce and COVID-19 National Report: 12-Month Follow-up
While vaccination rates have improved among professionals supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, their mental and physical health have declined, a new survey shows.
The Institute on Community Integration, in partnership with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), surveyed 2,657 DSPs and frontline supervisors about their experiences supporting people with IDD during the pandemic. The newly released survey report is a 24-month follow-up to an initial report issued in April 2020. Additional surveys were conducted six and twelve months after the initial report. The survey series represents the largest-ever national study of the DSP workforce.
According to the report, 52% percent of DSPs reported being diagnosed with COVID-19, and 6% were not diagnosed but suspected they had it. Among employers, 65% did not require DSPs to be vaccinated.
Sixteen percent of DSPs remain unvaccinated. Of the 84% who are vaccinated, 67% reported having at least one booster shot.
While vaccination rates have improved from the 12-month survey in 2021 (from 72% to 86%), the mental wellbeing of DSPs has declined. Forty percent of DSPs reported experiencing depression, compared with 36% one year ago; 43% had difficulty sleeping, a 13% increase; and 56% reported increased anxiety, a 14% increase. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they felt pressure to work extra hours.
“Direct support professionals and frontline supervisors have worked as hard as they can,” said Amy Hewitt, ICI director and lead investigator of the study. “This survey shows that their mental health is worsening, and we don’t have the resources to address it. Working this much overtime is not sustainable.”
A national plan to increase the size of the direct support workforce would help to alleviate multiple troubling issues, Hewitt said.
“This workforce has been overlooked and in crisis for years, with high turnover and vacancy rates, low wages, and lack of access to affordable benefits,” she said.
More than half of DSPs receive government-funded assistance, such as housing, energy, food, and healthcare. The pandemic made staffing even more difficult, increasing stress, expectations, and risk on those who remain in their positions.
The 24-month follow-up survey also looked at changes in technology use during the pandemic. Fifty-nine percent of DSPs reported using technology more or a lot more than before the pandemic. Thirty-six percent of the respondents said the use of technology had a somewhat positive impact on their work, and 14% reported it had a very positive impact. Seventeen percent reported a somewhat negative impact and 3% a very negative impact.
Read the full report, a short version, and select state-specific versions here.
Please contact Jerry Smith with questions.
Message from RCPA Member Foothold Technology:
It’s DSP Recognition Week! — Check Out Our Kudoboard Thanking DSPs Around the Country & Join Us for a Webinar We Are Sponsoring With NADSP!
It’s DSP Recognition Week! We’re thrilled to celebrate amazing DSPs making a difference in their communities. Each nominee received a special message of gratitude from Foothold along with a Starbucks gift card. Check out our Kudoboard highlighting the stories and nominations we’ve received over the past several weeks. Maybe you’ll recognize someone you know!
Webinar: Recognition, Retention, and Returns: How One Organization Empowers Direct Support Professionals — September 28 at 2:00 pm ET
In this sponsored webinar from Foothold Technology and NADSP, three direct support professionals from The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region and CEO Shawn Kros share the impact of NADSP materials on their organization. This panel discussion will focus on how Arc NCR infused NADSP materials and technology into their daily operations. Shawn Kros will share data on the impact as well as the benefits of doing so in their workforce. The direct support professionals will share how they have been influenced by this cultural shift at the organization and how recognition affects their role. Don’t miss out on this amazing session. Visit here to register!