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Empowering ReachOut e-Diversity News

Empowering ReachOut e-Diversity News is a newsletter funded by the Ohio DD Council through its Outreach Committee. The purpose of the newsletter is to provide information on the need to promote more interagency collaboration and coordination that results in agencies providing culturally competent services to the unserved and underserved populations in Ohio.

Empowering ReachOut e-Diversity News is designed to EMPOWER you to:

  • Recognize the needs of un/underserved Ohioans with developmental disabilities
  • Collaborate and coordinate to make sure culturally competent services are provided.
  • Measure and monitor to get results that support un/underserved Ohioans living more productive and independent lives.

Each newsletter includes a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Tool Kit that is a “must have” set of resources to help you expand your thoughts about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and equip you to act.

Latest Edition of Empowering ReachOut e-Diversity News

The March 2023 edition of Empowering ReachOut e-Diversity News focuses on the direct support professionals (DSP) shortage and how to identify sustainable solutions.

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Direct Support Professionals Shortage: Identifying Sustainable Solutions

There is agreement that the severity of the shortage of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) has reached a tipping point  igniting stakeholders to recognize the problem must be resolved. By next year, 2024, it is estimated 1.1 million workers will need to be added to the workforce to meet the nationwide demand. This article focuses on a 3-step process that can be used to identify sustainable solutions. Examples are provided to illustrate each step and are not intended to be comprehensive.

There is a difference in problem defining and problem-solving. Most tend to delve into identifying solutions (problem-solving) prior to getting clarity about the problem (problem defining). Albert Einstein believed that defining a problem  meticulously is the key to finding a good solution.

If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution. - Albert Einstein

Step 1: Define the issues that are fueling the DSP shortage. What?


Issue: What is fueling the crisis?

Answer: Individuals with developmental disabilities and their families are unable to maintain an independent lifestyle with a high quality of life.

Issue Definition: Definition requires identifying existing data or facts about the issue. If none exists, then data needs to be collected.

According to Ohio Statewide Disability Needs Survey 2022, 40.5 % respondents stated that in-home providers are unreliable and don’t show up for their shifts; 29% stated that they are sometimes left without in-home providers for weeks at a time. This results in individuals with developmental disabilities being unable to get out of bed, unable to complete activities of daily living (for example, bathing, showering, dressing, eating, using the toilet, walking, etc.). As a result, the individual with a disability may need to move to a nursing facility to get the care needed. The cost of care in nursing facilities is higher than in-home care. Additionally, for those individuals with developmental disabilities who work and/or their family members, not having a direct support professional impacts their ability to get to work. This reduces their pay and ability to maintain employment.

Step 2: Identify the root causes of the issue. Why?

Understanding the root causes helps to clarify “why” the issue exists. In the absence of clarity about the “why,” Band-Aid solutions are identified. Subsequently, the solution is short-term, and the problem is not resolved. There are often more than one cause that is creating the problem. Hence, looking at the problem from multiple perspectives facilitates
identifying all the root causes.


Root causes (This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of root causes.)

  • Inadequate supply of DSPs
  • Onboarding and training of DSPs
  • Lack of child-care benefits for DSPs
  • DSPs support system doesn't exist or is not available
  • DSPs pay is is below the livable wage

Step 3: Create solutions. How?

Think of solutions outside of those currently available. If you keep doing what you have always done you will continue to get the same results. Think outside the box by:

  • Challenging current ideas
  • Understanding the urgency
  • Clarifying the importance of the solution
  • Identifying the desire outcomes
  • Think about who can be your partner


Potential Solution (This is intended to stimulate ideas and not intended to be a fully developed solution).

Partner with AARP to create an in-home, on-call volunteer group trained by the DSP employer that would be available to  ensure that coverage could be provided when a DSP is unavailable. This volunteer support group can be trained to assist individuals with developmental disabilities in their activities of daily living; making it possible for them to remain in their homes.

Make sure you identify the pros and cons of the proposed solution. Additionally, get feedback from those that would be  engaged in the proposed solution to ensure that processes established are practical. Identify metrics that will facilitate understanding the solution’s effectiveness.


Metrics that measure effectiveness of a volunteer on-call group. These are not intended to be comprehensive.

  • number of individuals with developmental disabilities who remain in home
  • AARP volunteer satisfaction with training; performing volunteer service
  • Individuals with developmental disabilities and/or their family members satisfaction