Then, a few lines later: “Up to $600 sign on bonus. Plus, up to $6,000/year in educational and financial growth through our DSP certification program.”
The ad doesn’t explain what a “DSP” does — at least not beyond the phrase “empowering people with differing abilities to live, work and thrive” — but it’s plenty revealing in another way.
The ad’s existence shows where some disability service providers have found themselves nearly a year into the pandemic. They’re tossing out lures, hoping to draw in job candidates at a time when it would seem as if the unemployment rate would make a steady paycheck incentive enough.
James Phillips, senior director of human resources for the Arc NCR, says that in the past six months, he has shifted most of his resources toward recruitment.
“That’s the number one priority that’s been keeping me up at night,” he says. “When you watch the news, all you hear about is the unemployment crisis. But there are jobs available. I have them.”
So, too, do other disability service providers.
In the past week, I have spoken to agencies that serve people with disabilities and organizations that represent them, and they describe a hiring crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and involves a low-wage job that is critical to helping people with disabilities maintain their independence.
They also point to a complex mix of factors as causing that crisis. One of them: Many people have no idea the job exists.
If you say you’re a nurse or a home health aide, people understand what you do with your days. They can picture your scrubs or your badge. But tell them you’re a DSP — direct support professional — and their heads might tilt in a way that asks, “A what?”
DSPs work with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. That’s the simplest way to describe them. What their days actually entail differs depending on the level of help a person needs. Some jobs might require cleaning, bathing and doling out medication. Other jobs might involve planning excursions, demonstrating budgeting and helping fill out résumés.
“Someone is going to be looking to you, in some cases for everything and anything, to help them live independently,” Phillips says. “When I have somebody come on staff, I tell them, ‘Every day you get to come to work and you get to help that person live the life they want.’ ”
Hillary Scroggins recalls the first two people she worked with when she was hired as a DSP by the Arc NCR. Her time with each looked very different. One person needed her help to eat. The other needed assistance with budgeting and going to the grocery store.
She later helped another person reach his goal of joining a gym and feeling comfortable using the machines. She keeps a note from his family in her desk. One line reads: “We truly appreciate you.”
“A lot of the time, what you’re doing for people is their first experience,” Scroggins says. When she…
Go to the news source: One low-wage job has became harder to fill during the pandemic, despite the nati…