DSP Wage Increase Throughout Tennessee

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What does it mean to be a Direct Support Professional? DSPs are often described as caregivers, but the roles and responsibilities of a DSP go far beyond care-giving. DSPs are mentors, learners, advocates, and supporters. They encourage people to advocate for themselves and make informed decisions. They help teach skills for maintaining independence and provide supports to maintain and increase meaningful community participation. They promote employment and equality; empowerment and inclusion. They keep people safe and provide necessary daily supports to ensure peoples' survival. Being a DSP comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility, skill, and specialized training. Most of all, it requires compassion and a commitment to helping others achieve their goals. Providing direct support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is more than a job, it is an important career choice that has a lasting effect in the lives of others.

Unfortunately, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live with continuously rotating direct support staff. Direct Support Professionals, with an average pay of $8.73/hour in Tennessee, are unable to support themselves and their families and are forced to seek employment elsewhere. Many industries, including food, hospitality, warehouse, and retail pay more than direct support work. The lack of pay has lead to a dangerous staffing crisis for our most vulnerable population. Provider agencies supporting people with individual disabilities can not retain and recruit enough staff, leaving many Tennesseans at risk of harm and lack of continuity.

The wages of Direct Support Professionals depend upon state funding. Currently, across the state of Tennessee, provider agencies are asking the state of Tennessee for enough funding to provide a $1/hr. pay increase for Direct Support Professionals. This pay increase is far past due. Many Direct Support Professionals have been scraping by, hoping for a raise for years, because they love what they do and want to keep making a difference in the lives of others.

Please contact our legislators and let them know that you support a $1/hr. increase in wages for Direct Support Professionals. Your signature will help let our representatives know that the direct support staffing crisis across Tennessee needs to be addressed in order to ensure peoples' safety, health, and well-being.

 



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