The Job Most Americans Don’t Know About, But Is Crucial To The Success Of People With Disabilities

Helping to support individuals with disabilities can be incredibly rewarding. So why are so few people staying in these jobs?

The Case for Inclusion, a report recently published by two nonprofit institutions, ANCOR Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), gives a meticulously researched overview of what life is like for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The report assesses states on how well they include, support and empower individuals with I/DD. The conclusion? Despite progress, overall support for this community has stalled, according to the report—and honestly, even the word stalled sounds a little too kind.

There are years-long waiting lists for residential services and a low number of individuals with I/DD working at a market-driven wage. Families are picking up the duties that a professional would if they were covered by Medicaid. The good news: Decades after states embarked on efforts to close large institutions that essentially warehoused the I/DD population, 34% of people with intellectual disabilities are employed. Every dollar spent on supporting individuals in finding work, friends, and self-esteem promises a huge return on investment.

For people of all abilities in this community, success is often determined by one highly influential, skilled person who helps them navigate both the work world and home life. They are called DSPs. Not familiar with the acronym? You’re not alone. Read on to learn more.

One word of warning—there are a lot of acronyms in this post. Plow through anyway. This is important information for business leaders and their communities.