EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of outreach columns from the Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
In September, we will take some time to recognize and appreciate the hardworking people who directly support individuals with disabilities, either in their homes, the community or a workplace. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are tasked with many different roles. They may be supporting a person with a disability with learning to cook or making sure they are taking medication safely. They may be assisting a person with a disability to access the community and attend a community event like the Champaign County Fair. They may even be assisting the person with learning skills that can help them be successful in a job.
DSPs may work as independent contractors, or they may work for an agency that provides personal care services or day program services. Their jobs may be varied, but it is clear that without their important roles, our system will not work. The developmental disabilities system has come a long way. People with disabilities have more independence and choice than ever before. Without DSPs as the backbone of the system, positive change cannot continue.
At the Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities, we recognize the important role of people working as providers and DSPs. We also recognize that the system in place can be complicated to navigate. That’s why we try every day to provide resources, support, grants and guidance to the providers working in our county. We also support initiatives to raise rates.
The impact that a provider has served on the people cannot be overstated. And speaking from personal experience, the significance of the people served by the provider/DSP is just as important. My years as a DSP shaped my career, as well as my life. More than 20 years later, I can remember each person I worked with as a DSP. The work can be challenging, but one would be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding job.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to each and every person who works as a Direct Support Professional in our county. Your work matters and we appreciate you.
If you are a provider in Champaign County and need assistance or support, please contact the Champaign County Board of DD at 937-653-5217 and ask for a member of the Community Education and Outreach Department. If you are interested in becoming a DSP/provider, please contact us as well using the same number.
For more information about DSPs and the workforce shortage, please follow us on Facebook @ChampaignCBDD and check out our website at www.ChampaignCBDD.org.
Leigh Anne Wenning is the superintendent of Champaign County Board of DD.