Get to the Heart of the Matter

Direct Support Professional Recognition Week 2021

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are the Heart of Bancroft

The 2,000 DSPs who work at Bancroft are a diverse group of talented, compassionate men and women who devote their lives to empowering people with disabilities to live their best lives. We couldn’t do what we do without them.

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What is a DSP?

DSPs are caregivers who work with people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities, helping them with daily activities and supporting them in integrating into the community and achieving greater levels of independence.

But they’re so much more than that.

Female paraprofessional helping an individual cook at the stove.

By the numbers

DSPs have a big impact

0 M
DSPs employed nationally
0 K+
DSPs work in NJ, PA and DE
$ 0
is the national average hourly wage
0 M
people supported by DSPs nationally each year

DSPs are a critical force in the human services industry, vital to the care of those living with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities and brain injuries and indispensable in life-sustaining programs and support services. The care we provide can not be done without them.

Meet some of our DSPs

Male direct support professional smiling and posing for the camera. He is wearing a black t-shirt and is standing in front of a tree.

ADISA

Children’s Services

“Everyone has a story, and I try to put myself in their shoes. I believe that everything you do in life you have to enjoy it. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a job, I’m just enjoying time with the kids.”

Female direct support professional standing with her arm resting on a fence post. She is wearing a grey Bancroft t-shirt. She is outside and smiling posing for the picture.

MARY JO

Adult Services

“I love what I do because we serve a purpose and I know I make a difference. It’s given me a whole different perspective. I have four kids of my own who admire what I do – it’s made me a better person and them too.”

Female Direct Support Professional smiling and posing for the camera. She is wearing a blue short sleeve collared shirt and glasses. Her hair is braided and has pink at the ends.

JESSICA

Bancroft NeuroRehab

“For the people we serve, we are advocates, providers, and family. At the end of our shifts, we go home to our families, our pets, the comforts of our own home. For many of the people we serve, at the end of their day, they come home to us.”

5 ways to show DSPs your appreciation

1. Send a hand-written card, email, or a picture to say thanks — hearing directly from the families whose loved one they support means so much.

2. Share your story on social media. Post a picture or give a shout out to the DSPs who’ve made an impact. Tag @Bancroftorg and #DSPWeek

3. Send in coffee, pizza, meals, or schedule a night to deliver some goodies! Staff can’t accept individual gifts — but sending tokens of appreciation to the entire team is greatly appreciated by our DSPs! Contact the Program Manager to coordinate.

4. Make a donation to Bancroft in honor of a DSP or DSPs. Your gift will allow us to tangibly honor Bancroft team members throughout the year and continue to show them how valued they are.

5. Write to lawmakers. The number one issue facing the DSP workforce across the United States is low pay for the incredible work they do. As a country, we can — and must — do better for our caregivers.

DSPs are essential -- but they are in crisis

DSP Recognition Week is about showing our appreciation for the compassionate care Direct Support Professionals give, and the work they do every day to empower those with disabilities to live their best lives. But the DSP workforce faces an unprecedented crisis. 

The Issue:

DSP wages have historically fallen far short of where they should be for the challenging and important work they do. The average wage for a direct care worker in America is $14/hour — with some states as low as $11/hour. Low pay — coupled with the challenging nature of the job — mean DSPs have traditionally experienced a high rate of burnout and turnover.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting labor shortage have only exacerbated this trend, and providers face higher vacancy rates than ever before, struggling to recruit and retain staff.

The majority of DSPs are employed by human services providers who rely on government funding for the programs and services they provide — meaning wages depend upon the funding given to these agencies. 

It’s hard for Bancroft and other service providers to compete with big box stores and retailers who can simply raise their prices to cover the cost of increased wages. Instead, we must call on our Governors and state lawmakers to provide sustainable funding to provide permanent, sufficient wage increases for DSPs. 

Bancroft and advocacy organizations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, are actively engaged in conversations imploring lawmakers to increase funding to enable meaningful pay increases. As a part of the Bancroft community – you can help, too. 

How You Can Help:

Nobody understands the impact and importance of talented, compassionate and dedicated DSPs more than people living with disabilities and their friends and families. Make your voices heard!

Write to your state lawmakers asking them to allocate funding for permanent, sustained wage increases for Direct Support Professionals. You can use the template below – or write a letter of your own. 

Personal anecdotes about the impact DSPs have had on you or a loved one make a significant impact – so please share them!

Use the power of social media. Whether it’s during DSP Recognition Week or throughout the year, share stories of how your life has been changed by a DSP. If you’re comfortable, tag your local lawmakers. You can also tag our Bancroft channels so we can share to amplify your message. 

Stay involved and alert. Organizations like NJACP and the Coalition for a DSP Living Wage in New Jersey and the Ability Network of Delaware often share Action Alerts to give you tangible ways to advocate for issues that impact disability service providers, the DSP workforce and other parts of our world.

Search databases in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware to identify the lawmakers who represent you.

New Jersey: www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp

Pennsylvania: www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

Delaware: https://de.gov/topics/yourgovernment

Sample Letter

Dear [NAME]:

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities depend on Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to live successful, integrated lives in communities across the state. This week – from September 12 to 18 – is National Direct Support Recognition Week, and I’m reaching out to ask for your support of these dedicated and compassionate men and women. 

Unfortunately, the DSP workforce is in crisis. These essential workers do hard and important work for very little pay. These low wages, coupled with the challenging nature of the work and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm — and DSPs are leaving the workforce in record numbers, with providers across the country struggling to recruit and retain good candidates. 

This has a direct and significant impact on the lives of millions of people across the country who receive life-sustaining care from DSPs in group homes, or whose access to services like special education and day programs is enabled by the support of a direct care worker. This includes more than a million people in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware tri-state area. 

While the move toward a $15 minimum wage will help, providing direct care cannot be seen as minimum wage work, especially when retailers and other employers are offering the same pay rate for less responsibility. 

I respectfully request that you do everything in your power as one of our community’s elected leaders to provide greater funding for disability support services, and, importantly, for permanent, sustainable increases in DSP wages. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Share Why DSPs Matter

“Bancroft DSPs are our family! We cherish them and the love they have for Liz! As a family member, to know that she is loved and respected and in a caring and safe environment is immeasurable. We are forever grateful for all of your time and dedication!”

Paul and Selena’s sister, Liz, has lived with Bancroft NeuroRehab for 15 years.

Real Life. Real Purpose.

At Bancroft, you’ll find a career where you’re improving the lives of the people we serve, and you’ll see how they’re impacting your life, too.

Catch all the #DSPWeek action on Instagram
@Bancroftorg and @Bancroftcareers