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Staff Recruitment and Retention

Why This Is Important

A national crisis in finding, keeping and training direct support professionals (DSPs) continues to make providing community supports to people with disabilities difficult. Many studies describe the financial cost of turnover to agencies, with thousands of dollars in recruitment and training costs being lost every time a DSP leaves. Consumers and families, DSPs, frontline supervisors (FLS), agency administrators, and policy makers clearly identify the real cost associated with unwanted turnover: the deep and lasting loss in quality of life for consumers of these services. With every departing DSP, some things that make quality support possible, such as communicating with and understanding individuals being supported, relationships between DSPs and consumers, staff competence, and mutual respect, are diminished or destroyed. If one improvement could be made to affect the quality of life for people with disabilities it would be finding ways to effectively recruit and retain high quality DSPs who could learn and build on the important skills they need to deeply know the consumers and families that they support. The lives of consumers and their families would be much richer as a result. With turnover already averaging between 35-70% in support agencies the problems of finding and keeping DSPs shows little sign of diminishing without strong intervention. The number of women ages 18-44 (those most likely to fill DSP positions) will continue to decline but the need for DSPs will continue to grow through 2020. Many effective strategies that can be used by agencies and families immediately to reduce turnover and to improve recruitment and training are described in this store.

This web site is maintained by the Research and Training Center on Community Living with support from the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Human Services Research Institute and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. E-mail weste050@umn.edu.
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