Welcome to the new NADSP website. We’re really proud to be able to offer meaningful, contemporary and accessible information that’s relatable to direct support professionals. In this new website, you’ll have easy access to everything we’re doing at the NADSP;  follow our schedule of highly popular webinar series with our dear friend, “Let’s Talk with Dave Hingsburger” and our “Learning Annex Webinars”; learn about our three train-the-trainer curricula: Direct Support Professionals & Informed Decision Making, Frontline Supervision: From Management to Leadership and Infusing The Code of Ethics Into Daily Practice; research and download twenty years of our newsletter, The Frontline Initiative; shop at our store; learn about our Annual Conference; scroll a full library of articles, position papers and research papers related to direct support; and so much more.

One of the items we’ve included to this new website is a blog written by NADSP staff and partners. The NADSP Blog will be called “The Point of Interaction.” These blogs will be our reflections of contemporary issues addressing the field, important news from the NADSP offices, a celebration of our members and just a way to improve our overall communication with our network of friends. So in that spirit, I will get the ball rolling.

Yesterday, “Disability Scoop: The Premier Source for Developmental Disability News”, included the article, Direct Support Workers In Short Supply As Demand Surges which originally appeared Columbus Dispatch. This is only one of many recent news articles that depicted the vast challenges that provider organizations, families and people with disabilities are facing with regard to finding and keeping direct support professionals in 2018. As with most news articles of this nature, the topic of low wages were a primary focus and this prompted me to consider the complexity of these issues. While we at NADSP agree with the general premise that direct support wages are extremely important, there are many other factors of equal importance to note, two of which were addressed in the article; a lack of standardized career ladders and credentialing programs that are embedded and incentivized into state rate setting models and inadequate access to quality competency-based training and professional development programs.

The NADSP and our partners have identified several other factors that address this important topic that fuels this shortage and requires immediate attention;  there is no standardized occupational code that is recognized by state and federal departments of labor; direct support professionals are seeing an ever increasing demand to meet new regulatory requirements; direct support professionals are asked to make critical (life and death) decisions without adequate supervision; direct support jobs continue to have low social value & offer little recognition for doing the work that many people cannot or will not do; direct support professionals have limited access to technology; and the I/DD system is lacking in efforts (and funding) in innovative ways to attract new people to work in this field. Combine these things (and others like immigration reform) and you have a recipe for disaster that’s been 30 years in the making, as Dr. Hewitt noted.

To quote Senator Robert F. Kennedy after he toured the New York’s Willowbrook State School in 1968, one of the largest public institutions that housed thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the country, “people are suffering tremendously because of a lack of attention, lack of imagination, lack of adequate manpower”. A failure to invest in a vitally important workforce is a failure to invest in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and ultimately perpetuates a cycle that lack’s attention, imagination and manpower.

Thanks, I hope you like the website and our blog!