Press Releases

Rice Leads Bipartisan Bill to Address Direct Support Professional Shortage

Direct Support Professionals help people with disabilities live independently and fully participate in their communities

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Washington, July 28, 2021 | comments

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Kathleen Rice (NY-04), John Katko (NY-24), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) reintroduced the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act (H.R. 4779), a bipartisan bill to address the Direct Support Professional workforce shortage. This legislation is supported by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc., the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the Arc of the United States, the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) provide critical support to individuals who experience disabilities, assisting with communication, providing on-the-job coaching, and helping with daily living needs. These workers play a key role in helping ensure that adults with disabilities can live independently and fully participate in their communities. Right now, however, there aren’t enough workers to meet demand, and home- and community-based service providers struggle to recruit and retain DSPs. These longstanding workforce issues have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which devastated providers, their staff, and the populations they serve. Rice’s bill would address this shortage by providing the Department of Labor and the private sector with the data they need to better understand and respond to this pressing workforce challenge.

“The critical work of Direct Support Professionals has an immeasurable impact on the lives of those with disabilities and makes our society a better place,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “I’m grateful President Biden is committed to fighting for better pay and benefits for this workforce. This bill will support his efforts to address the shortage of Direct Support Professionals and will go a long way in ensuring more people with disabilities can lead productive and fulfilling lives. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for joining me to confront this urgent workforce issue.” 

“Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are crucial to the well-being and independence of many Americans with disabilities. They provide on-the-job coaching and help with daily living needs, allowing those living with disabilities to be independent and fully participate in their communities,” said Rep. John Katko. “For this reason, I am proud to join Rep. Rice in reintroducing bipartisan legislation to address the critical shortage of DSPs in this country. I applaud Rep. Rice for her leadership on this issue and will continue my work in Congress to ensure those living with disabilities have access to the resources they need.” 

“I am proud to join my colleagues in leading this bipartisan legislation. Direct Care Professionals work hard to support the independence and wellbeing of folks with disabilities,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “The work they do allows adults with disabilities and their families live fuller, more independent lives. It’s essential that we address this labor shortage and get the data we need to bridge the gap and recruit and retain these professionals.”

“Individuals with disabilities deserve good care providers. We need to help those that care for the disabled and ensure that there are more DSPs willing to assist those that need care,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act, to increase the number of DSPs in the workforce. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this important legislation to provide support for our disabled community.”

By improving data collection, the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act will:

  • Provide states and the federal government with more accurate information about the workforce trends for Direct Support Professionals to help identify workforce shortage areas and report accurate turnover rates.
  • Help identify where to implement targeted workforce training programs for Direct Support Professionals so that trained workers can meet local workforce needs. 
  • Recognize the unique role that Direct Support Professionals play in supporting individuals with disabilities and raise awareness of critical workforce needs. 

“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 many champions of [bill name or number], whose bipartisan leadership 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. In particular, we’re grateful for the ongoing commitment to community inclusion of Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), John Katko (R-NY).”

U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the Senate. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are also cosponsors of the legislation.

Text of Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act. 

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