Younger women warmly hugs an older women as they smile at each other.

During Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, we salute the 4,500,000+[1] direct support professionals (DSP) who provide the services needed for individuals with disabilities and older adults to maintain independence at home and in the community. This is often challenging work that is not glamorous, recognized, or highly paid. Nevertheless, it is this work that provides individuals to access life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The work of DSPs makes accessing basic civil rights possible, including going to school, getting a job, and participating in the community.

At Consumer Direct Care Network, our mission, vision, and values center on delivering excellent service so that individuals with disabilities and older adults can live the life they want. DSPs provide the front-line support needed to carry out these objectives. Consumer Direct Care Network honors the work of DSPs during this national week of recognition.

Four years ago, we started an appreciation program to recognize DSPs based on the number of hours worked. These service hours are categorized into six tiers called hour clubs, which range from 1,000-25,000 hours worked. In the four years this program has operated, we have welcomed 14,819 DSPs into the hour clubs with a personalized letter and small gift; this means 14,819 recognitions and opportunities for us to thank hardworking and dedicated DSPs.

Table 1. Number of DSPs in each hour club category per state

State 1k Hour Club 5k Hour Club 10k Hour Club 15k Hour Club 20k Hour Club 25k Hour Club
Alaska 778 262 103 60 41 22
Arizona 939 361 115 31 7 0
Florida 1428 264 22 4 2 0
Idaho 1587 639 313 133 36 7
Michigan 10 1 0 0 0 0
Montana 623 243 139 78 26 10
New Mexico 1028 494 265 101 30 8
Nevada 404 162 52 22 9 1
Texas 1455 253 52 11 2 1
Washington DC 672 45 3 0 0 0
Wisconsin 960 315 120 47 18 5
Totals 9884 3039 1184 487 171 54

This year we added “DSP of the Year” awards to the appreciation program and invited participants to nominate their DSP for the award. We received 220 nominations from individuals receiving services who wrote about how much they admire and appreciate their DSP’s above-and-beyond service. Our selection committee reviewed the nominations over the course of a couple weeks in order to select five winners. We awarded the winners with a $150 bonus and a congratulatory poster.

Table 2. DSP of the Year award winners

DSP of the Year winners City State
Johnny Cartwright Anchorage AK
Macy Henze Boise ID
Merritt Perry Temple Hills MD
Dale Libengood Tucson AZ
Rafael Lara Reyes Plant City FL

To all direct support professionals, we are inspired by you. Thank you for the service you provide, the values you display, and the professionalism you embody. We appreciate you as a DSP and a trusted and valued member of the community. Best wishes.

Your Consumer Direct Care Network Team