Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification

Sign the petition to US Office of Management and Budget

The statistics are extremely troubling for Direct Support Professionals. Turnover rates average around 45%. Vacancy rates are at roughly 9%. Hourly wages average around $10.72 per hour. What is behind these numbers? Where can we get more information about causes? How can we identify solutions?

While there can be answers to these questions based on assumptions or limited insight, we lack the ability for complex data analysis of these issues. It causes Direct Support Professionals to become anonymous. To confront this, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) is leading a nationwide effort to Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification (SOC).

A SOC is designated by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics. With the insight gathered through a SOC, governmental agencies, individual organizations, and everyday citizens can uncover otherwise unavailable information about that occupation. The Standard Occupational Classification for a Certified Nursing Assistant is 31-1014. The SOC for a Home Health Aide is 31-1121. The SOC for a Personal Care Aide is 31-1122. Direct Support Professionals do not have one.

Currently, Direct Support Professionals are inaccurately classified in labor reports under other positions, which do not adequately represent the skill requirements of a Direct Support Professional. Without a dedicated SOC for Direct Support Professionals, there are a number of critical ramifications:


  • Negative Implications for Service Reimbursement Rates
    When states do not have a SOC for classifying the roles of Direct Support Professionals, they struggle to appropriately set reimbursement rates for services which compensate Direct Support Professionals.
  • Lack of Data for Identifying Workforce Shortages
    Without a SOC, there is no real measure for identifying staffing needs, gaps in services, and risks for cessation of services. Data provided through a SOC will lead to better understanding workforce shortages and developing long-lasting approaches to fixing them.
  • Devaluation of the Workforce
    Despite the fact that a Direct Support Professionals work requires complex skills, thoughtful compassion, diverse care, and deep medical knowledge, there is a failure to identify this position on the scale it deserves. A SOC would create a concrete understanding of both the contributions and the struggles of the workforce.

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) is building a coalition to issue a petition to the US Office of Management and Budget, demanding that the office Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification. Direct Support Professionals should not have to work anonymously anymore.

Establish a DSP Standard Occupational Classification

We ask you to join us in taking a bold stance, advocating as one, and banding together under this nationwide initiative for a Standard Occupational Classification.

Spread The Word

To help expand this campaign and reach as many petition signers as possible, please share this initiative with your colleagues, friends, families, and others. You can click on the social media share buttons below to post about this important issue and encourage your contacts to Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification.


Additional Information

There are other materials and sources of information that play an important part in the petition to Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification. You can access these to learn more about the basis for a Standard Occupational Classification as well as other efforts to advance this initiative at the federal level.

In addition to the petition to Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification, a letter was sent to U.S. Senator Bob Casey outlining these issues and asking for support.

This report ‘America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis’ aims to improve the awareness and understanding of the effects of the direct support workforce crisis, along with the opportunities to address it.
“As part of ANCOR’s efforts to engage Congress in proactive policy solutions for IDD providers, ANCOR seeks to improve how the federal government collects wage and occupation information for Direct Service Professionals (DSPs). Specifically, ANCOR wishes to see changes in how the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects DSP data for its Occupational Outlook Handbook.”
The 2017 Senate Resolution recognized DSP Week and encouraged “the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor to collect data specific to direct support professionals”
In April 2017, Illinois advocates led by IARF were successful in getting a House Resolution filed in that urges the BLS to provide Direct Support Professionals with a Standard Occupational Classification.

Petition Partner Organizations

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals is leading this campaign with the support of the following industry partners, who are committed to Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification:


  • Alliance for Citizen Directed Supports
  • American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD)
  • American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)
  • American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)
  • The Arc of the United States
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
  • Community Bridges Consulting Group
  • CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership
  • Human Services Research Institute (HSRI)
  • National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD)
  • National Association on Dual Diagnosis (NADD)
  • National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services (NASDDDS)
  • National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities (NLCDD)
  • Research and Training Center at The University of Minnesota
  • Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE)
  • The Learning Community for Person Centered Practices (TLCPCP)
  • The Sibling Leadership Network (SLN)