Direct support professionals help people to increase their independence and be more included in community life. DSPs work in a variety of settings, including family homes, individual homes, small community group homes, vocational and day programs, as well as other locations. Their work requires training, competency, problem-solving skills and compassion.
"What I love most about my job is seeing people grow in all aspects of their lives; it’s not about just seeing them learn more at work, it’s about being part of helping them learn new ways to communicate, advocate and develop relationships," said employment specialist Maria Kern. "It’s wonderful to see how employers and co-workers come together to learn more on how to work with those with special needs. I love being a part of people’s productivity in the community and really showing their community what they can do."
Below are some resources for people interested in a career or already working as a direct support professional:
If you are interested in starting a rewarding career in direct care, here is some information to get you started:
Moving Home Minnesota, for people who want to move from a licensed setting to their own home, offers a variety of services and can help with setting up public transportation, reoccurring delivery services, etc.
The Life-Sharing matching process and ongoing support options matches adults with disabilities 18 or older with people or families who will share their life, experiences and home. It is a relationship-based living arrangement and can serve as an alternative to the shift-staff support model.
DHS and MN-NEAT cohost webinars about devices and equipment that people can use to help increase their independence. For example, they partnered to offer a webinar about technology for alternative overnight supervision, which explained how to use and fund technology that can sometimes serve as an alternative to overnight supervision.
Providers may apply periodically for innovation grants to support innovative strategies that help build capacity and strength of the direct care and support workforce.
The Collaborative Safety initiative can be a helpful tool. The initiative is an approach to move critical incident reviews away from a culture of blaming staff toward a culture of learning and improving.
We offer the following training options at low or no cost:
Minnesota employers can post their hiring, career exploration and networking events on the CareerForce calendar. Submit the appropriate linked form to have an event added to the calendar.
Minnesota employers can also contact CareerForce for help to find employees, set up hiring events and explore other workforce options. Contact a CareerForce location near you to get started.
When staff turnover is related to challenging behaviors, waiver providers might consider offering or requesting help from a positive support services provider. All the support staff levels are designed to help address challenging behaviors. The positive support specialist level can provide direct supports when implementing a positive support plan. Positive support specialists can earn higher wages and ease some of the responsibility put on DSPs who earn lower wages. Additionally, the service might support staff retention by giving current employees additional job opportunities within their organization.
Specialist services can also be helpful in addressing staff turnover when the person receiving services has a unique need that requires support from someone who has specialized skills or training. For example, a specialist services provider can help staff and caregivers develop additional communication skills, provide training on the use of assistive technology, develop a plan for the person to live more independently, etc. This service is different from those provided by a positive support specialist under Positive support services.