As a former service provider of 20 years, I have seen many ups and downs for service providers within the Developmental Disability Service System. During this period, I can count on one hand the number of rates increases that providers received. While rate increases are greatly appreciated, they do little to attract and retain Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), the valued frontline workers in the system.
As a result of inadequate funding and the inability to pay DSPs what they deserve, providers also struggle to offer annual wage increases and improve employee benefit packages, which makes the likelihood of competing with fast food and other industries competing for the same labor pool difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, we often find DSP turnover rates to be over 100 percent.
Many DSPs struggle with the decision of either impacting society by serving individuals with disabilities or serving customers hamburgers and fries. Serving hamburgers for higher pay and better benefits allows DSPs to work only two jobs instead of three or four to support their family.
DSP wages would need to be near $20 per hour to make any form of an impact. But what are the odds of providers being able to offer that wage? Providers wait for assistance from the government, and it hasn't transpired because the system is sadly broken and stuck.
The system needs creative financing to support providers nationally. State and local government policymakers should understand that improving the system without adding cost means looking beyond the antiquated rules, regulations, red tape, and the status quo. They ought to consider how to better serve those with developmental disabilities with minimal financial resources and current innovation.
While Scioto Properties serves the Behavioral Health, Traumatic Brain Injury, Substance Abuse, Senior Home Care, and Adult Day Service industries, we have operated nationally in the Developmental Disability industry for over 20 years. Scioto is actively proposing and pursuing resourceful pilot programs. While doing so, we have learned that many decision-makers are hesitant and fear new ideas that deviate from what the system has been for decades. However, without paying DSPs $20 per hour, we must get creative and be the change agents needed to improve the care and services of those we collectively serve.
Scioto Properties is willing to talk with any service provider, managed care organization, and federal, state, or local government official to discuss pain points and originative solutions. As a nationwide real estate company with extensive provider experience, we offer a practiced, new perspective. Together we can be the industry's change agents.