Feature Issue on Direct Support Workforce Development (Fall/Winter 2007/08)

Volume 20 Number 2

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A newsletter issue addressing the forces impacting the availability and quality of Direct Support services for people with disabilities, and presenting ideas readers can implement to ensure that individuals with disabilities continue to have access to the supports they need to live lives of their choosing in their local communities. For many people with disabilities, life in their communities - in the workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, and multitude of places people gather socially - is influenced by the availability of qualified, reliable Direct Support staff. The Direct Support workforce is made up of people whose skills, knowledge, and commitment equip them to assist individuals with disabilities in maintaining health, self-determination, and community participation. That workforce and the supports it provides is in jeopardy today because the demand and need for such services is outgrowing the pool of individuals willing and able to fill those essential positions. The forces impacting the availability of quality Direct Support services include wages, benefits, education, professional status and standards, and budgets, as well as the steadily growing total number of Direct Support staff needed. The articles in this *Impact* describe how these issues are being addressed across the country through strategies that reach from the U.S. Congress to the homes of individuals in local communities.

Staff: Vicki D Gaylord, Amy S Hewitt, Nancy J McCulloh, Sheryl A Larson