By Steve Suroviec, President and CEO, ACHIEVA
September 9th through the 15th was “National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.” To everyone within ACHIEVA and elsewhere who is a direct support professional (DSP), I extend my thanks and appreciation. Whether you’re a DSP yourself, a person with a disability who works with a DSP, or a family member who relies on a DSP, we probably all have personal stories that illustrate how vitally important DSPs are to people with disabilities and their families.
My sister worked with a number of DSPs during her life, and I remember how crucial they were to not only enabling her to live but also to live her life the way she wanted to live it. Whether it was helping her get up in the morning, bathe, eat her meals, or get in and out of the accessible van to go to church, visit family, or keep a doctor’s appointment, the DSPs in her life kept her “alive” – in every sense of the word.
As important as National DSP Recognition Month is, I don’t think paying tribute to DSPs only once a year is enough. ACHIEVA tries to honor this valuable profession throughout the year with staff bonuses when possible, an annual employee banquet, and advocacy in Harrisburg and Washington D.C. to push for better DSP wages. Most recently, ACHIEVA joined the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). Through this organizational membership, ACHIEVA hopes to do the following:
- Elevate the status of the DSP and demonstrate ACHIEVA’s commitment to its staff who are DSPs
- Support the continued professional growth of DSPs by offering access to best practices in the field, educational experiences, and lifelong learning
- Improve DSP longevity with ACHIEVA by developing many of the incentives and career pathways promoted by NADSP, and
- Gain access to information about successful national and international practices, such as certificate programs, apprenticeships, and credentialing that enhances the professional development of DSPs
To all DSPs, thank you! Without you, countless people with disabilities and their families could not live the lives they do in their communities. As always, please feel free to send constructive comments and questions to me at email@example.com.