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Providing for and Retaining Our Workforce

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By Drew Bielemeier

Heritage Christian Services was treated to a productive visit from representatives from the National Association of Direct Support Professionals last month: Joseph MacBeth and Desiree Loucks Baer. Joseph has worked in our field since 1983, and was recently asked to join President Joe Biden’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Desiree performed provider association work as the director of program and member services for NYSACRA for many years before taking a position with the NADSP.

Our goal was to answer two questions: How might we provide an education and training program that best prepares DSPs and frontline supervisors to provide high quality services, and how do we provide an environment in which they are valued and recognized for their diverse skillsets?

In 2021, the NADSP reported that turnover rates in our industry averaged around 43.6%. Retention in our industry is crucial to providing the best possible services to the people we support. It creates rapport and a sense of stability among staff and people choosing our services.

We shared our strategic plan, which focused on four main areas of our organization: culture, customer, internal process and value.

From there, we gleaned perspectives from our NADSP guests. They discussed the organization’s e-badge academy, providing easy access to a range of courses for direct support staff development. They communicated with us that later in the year, OPWDD will offer an education pilot program around the e-badge academy. NADSP thought our agency would be a good candidate to participate.

Following their visit, both Joe and Desiree expressed how impressed they were with the work we are doing, which you can read about here. As an agency, we are leading the way for workforce development and equity. We must continue to evolve how we provide for our staff and promote retention in our industry.