ACL Announces the Blazing New Trails for Community-Based Direct Support Professionals Prize Challenge Grand Prize Winner

ACL Announces the Blazing New Trails for Community-Based Direct Support Professionals Prize Challenge Grand Prize Winner

October 14, 2021 - The Blazing New Trails for Community-Based Direct Support Professionals prize challenge was launched by ACL to seek innovative solutions that would strengthen the direct support professional (DSP) workforce and increase the overall stability of home-and community-based services (HCBS) for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).

After several phases of competition, ACL is announcing The Collaborative for Citizen Directed Supports –  NJ as the grand prize winner! 

Throughout the challenge competition, The Collaborative for Citizen Directed Supports – NJ developed their ideas, tested the implementation, and reviewed the long-term sustainability of their solution to demonstrate an innovative approach for improving the stability and size of the DSP workforce. 

The Collaborative for Citizen Directed Supports – NJ is a membership organization that promotes and expands citizen-directed services and supports in New Jersey. They developed an interactive map that indicates where self-directed employees (SDEs) and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are located so that clients can contact them about their services. 

The Collaborative for Citizen Directed Supports – NJ has built a network of over 700 people who can share and promote the map and DSP support solutions. DSP agencies can submit lists of their available staff to the map, and SDEs can submit information about their staffing preferences. With their small-scale testing, The Collaborative for Citizen Directed Supports – NJ demonstrated that through proper formalized partnerships, effective marketing, and professional training, it is possible to increase the size and improve the stability of the DSP workforce, while also improving the capabilities of the DSP workforce.  

As the grand prize winner, The Collaborative for Citizen Directed Supports – NJ will be awarded a $120,000 cash prize.

ACL expresses our sincere gratitude to the participants in the challenge for their contribution and commitment to improving the DSP workforce. 

As ACL celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we applaud the DSPs who contribute to the success of ensuring people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement.
 

Note: This Challenge Competition is now closed and completed.

 

Challenge Background

ACL sought inventive solutions to strengthen the direct support professional (DSP) workforce and to improve the overall quality of home- and community-based services (HCBS) for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). The goal was to encourage the development of innovative business models that will help to stabilize the DSP labor market.

The Problem

The DSP workforce provides vital services that ensure Americans with ID/DD have the support they need to live independently in the community. Demand for these essential professionals is at an all-time high and growing. With an average turnover rate of 45% and significant challenges to recruiting and retaining DSPs, the demand far exceeds supply. The University of Minnesota’s Institute for Community Integration estimates there are 1.3 million DSPs supporting individuals with ID/DD. To sustain this level of service at the current turnover rates, 574,200 new DSPs need to be hired into the workforce every year. In addition, at least another 167,000 would be needed to serve individuals who are on waiting lists for HCBS[1].

Due to the lack of stability of the workforce, many people are unable to obtain all of the services they need, which limits full participation and true inclusion in society. It also significantly impacts the quality of HCBS received by people with ID/DD living in the community[2]. There are multiple reasons for difficulties in attracting and retaining DSPs, including; the rising need for services creating competition for workers, shifts in the types of services needed, low wages, lack of benefits, and lack of training and promotion opportunities.

Update 8/16/2021: Round 2 Winners

Round 2 participants of the Blazing New Trails for Community Based Direct Support Professionals Prize Challenge conducted small-scale testing on their proposed solution model. Round 2 Winners:

  • Able South Carolina is a Center for Independent Living which is run by and for people with disabilities, that brings a unique perspective to the Direct Support Professional (DSP) recruitment and retention process. Their proposed solution is a two-pronged approach: an innovative marketing campaign for recruitment that offers a fresh perspective on the DSP role paired with disabilities rights training for new and current DSPs. With their small-scale testing, Able South Carolina demonstrated promising success at recruiting DSPs by reframing the as essential to equity and social justice; while supporting the role through training modules that reinforce better relationships with the individuals they serve. For more information visit, Able South Carolina.
  • The Collaborative for Citizen Directed Supports – NJ is a membership organization that promotes and expands citizen-directed services and supports in New Jersey. Their Interactive Map is an innovative way to indicate where self-directed employees (SDEs) and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are located so that clients can contact them about their services. The Collaborative has built a network of over 700 people who can share and promote the MAP and DSP/SDE support solutions. DSP agencies can submit lists of their available staff to the Map, and SDEs can submit information about their staffing preferences as needs. With their small-scale testing, The Collaborative demonstrated that through proper formalized partnerships, effective marketing, and professional training, it is possible to increase the size and improve the stability of the DSP workforce while also improving the capability of the DSP. For more information visit, The Collaborative for Citizen Direct Supports – NJ.
  • RCM of Washington provides services and support to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (ID/DD) in the District of Columbia. As a leader in advocacy efforts for people with ID/DD, RCM of Washington hopes to expand The Direct Support Professional (DSP) Academy. The customized vocational training program would certify people with ID/DD to work as Direct Support Professionals (DSP) by using classroom and on-the-job training to complete state DSP training requirements. RCM believes that certifying unexpected groups as DSPs will revolutionize the standard labor supply. With their small-scale testing, RCM of Washington demonstrated favorable results in their training program. The testing indicated that with tailored cohort recruitment, strong collaboration with state partners, and a person-centered curriculum and training, the DSP workforce could improve and gain stability. For more information visit, RCM of Washington, Inc.

In Round 3, beginning late summer 2021, participants will examine the long-term sustainability of their proposed model to demonstrate the practicality of the idea as it seeks to resolve the ever-growing concerns within the DSP workforce. Teams will convene remotely to propose their long-term sustainability plan to a panel of judges who will help select one Grand Prize winner. The Round 3 winner will be announced in October 2021 during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Update 5/4/2021: Round 1 Winners

Meet the Round 1 Winners:

  • As a Center for Independent Living run by and for people with disabilities, Able South Carolina brings a unique perspective to the DSP recruitment and retention process. Their proposed solution is a two-pronged approach: an innovative marketing campaign for recruitment that offers a fresh perspective on the DSP role paired with disabilities rights training for new and current DSPs. By framing the role of the DSP as an advocate and ally, Able South Carolina aspires to reinvent the purpose and value of the DSP field. For more information visit, Able South Carolina
  • The Collaborative for Citizen Directed Supports – NJ is a membership organization that promotes and expands citizen-directed services and supports in New Jersey. Their Interactive Map is an innovative way to indicate where self-directed employees (SDEs) and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are located, so that clients can contact them about their services. DSP agencies can submit lists of their available staff to the Map each week and SDEs can submit information about their staffing preferences as needed. The Collaborative has built a network of over 700 people who can share and promote the MAP and DSP/SDE support solutions. For more information visit, The Collaborative for Citizen Direct Supports – N.J.
  • Guided by the belief that all DSPs benefit from access to well-constructed educational experiences, The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc. (NADSP) created the E-Badge Academy to provide a path to credentialing. The academy will provide DSPs with the opportunity to earn electronic badges, which demonstrate the acquisition and development of knowledge, skills, and values that otherwise go unacknowledged. The E-Badge testimonials collected by NADSP indicate that the academy has led to meaningful personal outcomes for DSPs. For more information visit, The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc.
  • RCM of Washington provides services and supports to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (ID/DD) in the District of Columbia. As a leader in advocacy efforts for people with ID/DD, RCM of Washington hopes to expand The DSP Academy. The customized vocational training program would certify people with ID/DD to work as DSP by using classroom and on-the-job training to complete state DSP training requirements. RCM believes that certifying unexpected groups as DSPs will revolutionize the standard labor supply. For more information visit, RCM of Washington, Inc.
  • In partnership with the Maryland Direct Support Professional Training Consortium, SEEC proposes the establishment of a dynamic, professional development program for DSPs. The Building Tomorrow’s DSP WorkFORCE (Fostering Opportunities, Recognition, Competencies & Excellence) initiative is a comprehensive career pathway and socioeconomic advancement program that includes elevated training, formal credentialing, and a variety of on-the-job mentoring opportunities. SEEC’s proof-of-concept pilot identified and validated a set of core competencies needed by direct service workers across the long-term service and supports industry. For more information, visit SEEC.

In Round 2, beginning in Spring of 2021, participants will conduct small scale feasibility testing on their innovative models proposed in Round 1. Teams will present their ideas remotely to a panel of judges who will help select winners. Judges will have expertise in the DSP labor market, economics, and lived experience with ID/DD. Round 2 winners will be announced in August 2021. 


[2] American Network of Community Options and Resources, Addressing the Disability Services Workforce Crisis of the 21st Century, 2017

 


Last modified on 10/18/2021


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