Press Release

September 13, 2023
Cardin, Collins Lead Senate Recognition of Direct Support Professionals Week
Frontline health care professionals honored for their service and dedication

WASHINGTON – The Senate has unanimously approved a resolution from U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) recognizing this week as Direct Support Professionals Week. Their resolution (S. Res. 337) designates September 10-16 as a time to honor frontline health care workers for their dedication and work enhancing the lives of individuals with chronic illness, seniors and those living with a disability.

“This week, we honor direct support professionals, the frontline health care workers who are on the job around the clock to make daily life more manageable for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, chronic illnesses and seniors. They bring dignity back to people’s lives and make a difference 365 days a year,” said Senator Cardin. “We value your service and dedication all year, but this week, is a special time to recognize the challenges you face as you help patients. Building on your example, we will continue to invest in home- and community-based services and building up the home care workforce with appropriate income and support they 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 Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

The full resolution follows and can be downloaded at this link.

Title: Designating the week beginning September 10, 2023, as “National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week”.

Whereas direct care workers, including direct support professionals, personal assistants, personal attendants, in-home support workers, and paraprofessionals, are key to providing publicly funded, long-term support and services for millions of individuals with disabilities;

Whereas direct support professionals provide essential services that ensure that all individuals with disabilities are—

(1) included as a valued part of the communities in which those individuals live;

(2) supported at home, at work, and in the communities of the United States; and

(3) empowered to live with the dignity that all people of the United States deserve;

Whereas, by fostering connections between individuals with disabilities and their families, friends, and communities, direct support professionals ensure that individuals with disabilities thrive, thereby avoiding more costly institutional care;

Whereas direct support professionals build close, respectful, and trusting relationships with individuals with disabilities and provide a broad range of personalized support to those individuals, including—

(1) helping individuals make person-centered choices;

(2) assisting with personal care, meal preparation, medication management, and other aspects of daily living;

(3) assisting individuals in accessing the community and securing competitive, integrated employment;

(4) providing transportation to school, work, religious, and recreational activities;

(5) helping with general daily affairs, such as assisting with financial matters, medical appointments, and personal interests; and

(6) assisting individuals in the transition from isolated or congregate settings or services to living in the communities of their choice;

Whereas there is a critical and increasing shortage of direct support professionals throughout the United States, a crisis that was exacerbated by the COVID–19 pandemic, bringing uncertainty and risk to individuals with disabilities;

Whereas direct support professionals do not have their own Standard Occupational Classification for the purposes of Federal data collection, which includes data produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor;

Whereas the direct care workforce, including direct support professionals, is expected to grow more than any other occupation in the United States;

Whereas many direct support professionals—

(1) are the primary financial providers for their families;

(2) are hardworking, taxpaying citizens who provide a critical service in the United States; and

(3) continue to earn low wages, receive inadequate benefits, and have limited opportunities for advancement, resulting in high turnover and vacancy rates that adversely affect the quality of support, safety, and health of individuals with disabilities; and

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States, in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999)—

(1) recognized the importance of the deinstitutionalization of, and community-based services for, individuals with disabilities; and

(2) held that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S. 12101 et seq.), a State must provide person-centered, community-based service options to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) designates the week beginning September 10, 2023, 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 in the United States and the families of those individuals;

(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 that is 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.