Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, introduced bipartisan legislation that would address the critical need for more Direct Support Professionals in the workforce. Direct Support Professionals assist with communication, provide on-the-job coaching, and help with daily living needs for individuals who experience disabilities. Unfortunately, home- and community-based service providers in Maine, New Hampshire, and across the country are struggling to recruit and retain Direct Support Professionals.
One challenge in addressing the problem is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes Direct Support Professionals under the broader category of “home health care aides,” which makes it impossible to accurately track workforce trends. The Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act would revise the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ classification system, ensuring better data on this pressing workforce challenges.
“Every day, Direct Support Professionals work hard to provide critical support to individuals with disabilities that leads to more independent living and a better quality of life,” said Senator Collins. “We face a considerable shortage of information on the work they do and the important services they provide. Our bipartisan bill would address this information deficit by requiring OMB to improve data collection to help us better understand and address the challenges Direct Support Professionals experience.”
“As a mother of a son who experiences severe disabilities, I have seen day after day the vital role that Direct Support Professionals play for individuals with disabilities and their families,” said Senator Hassan. “Not only do they assist with daily tasks, but they also help people who experience disabilities participate fully in their communities. Their work profoundly touches the lives of the individuals and families they work with, and we must ensure that there are enough Direct Support Professionals in the workforce to provide this crucial support. This bipartisan bill would update the way the federal government tracks workforce data on Direct Support Professionals in order to inform better policies and provide more support to individuals who experience disabilities.”
“For years, ANCOR has advocated for better data on our direct support workforce because we fundamentally believe that robust data is a badly needed step toward solving the direct support workforce crisis,” said Barbara Merrill, Chief Executive Officer for ANCOR. “That’s why we’re so grateful for the leadership of Senators Hassan and Collins in introducing the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act, which will propel us forward significantly in our efforts to ensure people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be supported by qualified professionals who enhance their quality of life.”
Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Joni Enst (R-IA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are co-sponsors of the legislation.
Click HERE to read a summary of the bill.
Click HERE to read the full text of the bill.