Governor Haslam Issues Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week Proclamation
NASHVILLE—Governor Bill Haslam signed a proclamation declaring September 13-19 as Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Recognition Week, in honor of the thousands of people who work to support persons with disabilities to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.
An estimated 20-thousand Tennesseans work to support persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many through organizations contracted by the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) to provide home and community-based waiver services.
“While Direct Support Professionals’ job duties can be very rigorous and difficult, I truly believe it is one of the most rewarding jobs to support persons with disabilities to achieve their goals,” DIDD Commissioner Debra Payne said. “DSPs are truly the backbone of our service delivery system, and oftentimes become like family to the people they support.”
Payne started her career in the field as a direct support professional at Clover Bottom Developmental Center more than 30 years ago. Many DIDD leaders also started their careers supporting persons with intellectual disabilities.
The proclamation recognizes that communities are strengthened and enriched by the inclusion of all members of society, and that direct support professionals can assist persons with disabilities in finding integrated employment and allow persons with disabilities to live self-directed lives.
“The role of a DSP is not that of a caregiver,” Payne said. “A good DSP should promote and support a person with disabilities to live as independently as possible with maximum inclusion into their communities.”
DIDD contracts with more than 400 community provider agencies to support nearly 8000 people with disabilities. Many agencies have events planned to honor their DSPs throughout the week.