WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) led the Senate this week in recognizing the dedication of frontline health care workers with their resolution (S. Res. 767) marking September 11–16 as Direct Support Professionals Week. The annual event honors the dedication and vital role of direct support professionals (DSPs) in enhancing the lives of individuals with chronic illness, seniors, and those living with a disability. The coronavirus pandemic continues to manifest challenges for ensuring the health and safety of older adults and individuals with disabilities.
“Direct support professionals stepped up during the pandemic and provided care while facing increased personal risks as frontline workers. Many faced long-standing difficulties such as inadequate wages and benefits,” said Senator Cardin. “We honor the women and men who make a difference in the lives of so many others and encourage other professionals to enter this critical field. Under President Biden’s leadership, we have taken steps to invest in home- and community-based services by building up the home care workforce and expanding access to care. We must ensure these hard-working individuals have the income and support they need and deserve.”
“Every day, direct support professionals work hard to provide those in need with critical support that leads to more independent living and a better quality of life,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan resolution ensures that these professionals receive the recognition they deserve. I thank all direct support professionals for making such an incredible difference in the lives of so many seniors and those living with a disability.”
In addition to Senators Cardin and Collins, the resolution marking Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
The Cardin-Collins resolution, S. Res. 767,
(1) designates the week beginning September 11, 2022, as “National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week”;
(2) recognizes the dedication and vital role of direct support professionals in enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities;
(3) appreciates the contribution of direct support professionals in supporting individuals with disabilities and their families in the United States;
(4) commends direct support professionals for being integral to the provision of long-term support and services for individuals with disabilities;
(5) encourages the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor to collect data specific to direct support professionals; and
(6) finds that the successful implementation of public policies affecting individuals with disabilities in the United States can depend on the dedication of direct support professionals.
Direct support professionals (DSPs) assist millions of individuals living with disabilities to perform a wide range of essential daily tasks such as meal preparation, transportation, and medication management. DSPs provide critical home- and community-based services (HCBS) that allow individuals to stay connected with their communities. Demand for direct support professionals is expected to increase by at least 1.4 million new direct care jobs by 2026, according to PHI. An insufficient number of direct support professionals will likely mean longer wait lists for individuals seeking assistance, force providers to turn away new referrals, or discontinue programs and services.These circumstances hurt quality of care and put further stress on family caregivers.
The full resolution can be downloaded here.