OPWDD Launches Values-Based Workforce Recruitment Campaign
ALBANY—As part of the agency's overhaul of its policies and procedures to ensure that individuals are safe and that employees have the skills and resources they need to successfully do their jobs, the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) today announced a workforce recruitment campaign that is based on the rewards and realistic challenges of being a direct support professional (DSP). OPWDD's campaign seeks to attract new applicants by stressing the values expected of all DSPs—dignity, equality, and respect for everyone—and includes a web video featuring DSPs currently in state and nonprofit service.
"Few careers are more rewarding, or more challenging, than those of direct support professionals," said Commissioner Courtney Burke. "We have implemented many positive changes to step up our role in providing oversight and guidance. Providing trainings and supports to our workforce is front and center in terms of making the system safer and strengthening the quality of services we provide. Our recruitment campaign will complement these changes well, as it is based on the values of our workforce and provides a realistic view of a career in direct support."
Since April 2011, OPWDD has overhauled virtually every aspect of its operations, including raising hiring standards and standardizing the trainings and supports that employees need to succeed, for the first time in the agency's history. By committing to this new workforce recruitment campaign, the system will benefit from more applicants and a broader applicant pool, which will help alleviate issues that create stress within the workforce, such as staff vacancies and increased overtime.
Raymond Bowman, an OPWDD direct support professional from the Capital Region said, "Being a DSP is one of the most rewarding and challenging endeavors that I've embarked on. I'm so thankful that as a DSP I've had the opportunity, on a daily basis, to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people I serve. Helping people grow to live richer, fuller lives and to become more independent brings me great joy and personal satisfaction, and is what I like best about being a DSP."
Joseph M. Macbeth, executive director of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals said, "On a daily basis, direct support professionals are asked to navigate a maze of ethical dilemmas and must often respond by making critical decisions at a moment's notice. The outcomes of these decisions can literally be a matter of life and death for the person who is receiving supports. There is no other profession in this industry that demands universal, competency-based skill standards and a code of ethical practices. I applaud New York State OPWDD for recognizing the immense responsibility of the direct support role and providing them with the tools to build long, successful, and rewarding careers that secure freedom, justice, and equality for people with disabilities."
Juanita Crisp, a direct support professional with the Developmental Disabilities Institute on Long Island said, "Working as a DSP takes time and patience. Knowing the difference I make in someone's life is rewarding and a privilege." Juanita's colleague, Philbert Badresingh, added, "Genuine love is hard to come by, but when you work as a DSP that is exactly what you get from the people we serve."