Every day across the nation, Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) play a vital role in America’s workforce and economy by providing necessary supports and services to people with disabilities of all ages, including supports related to employment.
DSPs are part of the broader workforce of Direct Care Workers (DCWs). A 2019 issue brief estimates 4.5 million people in the U.S. are DCWs, 87% of whom are women and 53% women of color.
As skilled professionals, DSPs support people with disabilities to participate in their communities, including through employment. For example, they may serve as job development staff to assist in finding and/or customizing jobs or as job coaches who provide direct employee assistance on the job. They also provide other services, such as help with activities of daily living.
Shortages in recent years have spurred federal, state and local action to bring more attention to this profession and mount an effective response to attract more people to become DSPs and support them through appropriate compensation and opportunities for advancement. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/program-areas/individuals/DSP.