Emory Valley Center

An Initiative to Address the Workforce Crisis for Direct Support Professionals

Emory Valley Center’s (EVC) initiative will explore solutions to the workforce crisis for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), who deliver essential long-term supports that empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to live more independently and work in the community. The crisis has reached “catastrophic levels” and has devastated providers and the people they support by limiting the number of people served, negatively impacting the quality of services, and increasing risks for accidents and abuse. In addition, East Tennessee’s turnover rate, at 55%, is higher than the national average. EVC is committed to finding solutions that increase retention rates by 20-30%. These solutions will reduce the cost of continuous recruitment efforts and time spent on onboarding and training. With improved productivity and fewer vacancies, EVC can increase revenue by serving more people and improving hourly wages. EVC plans to expand current strategies and learn from organizations to find solutions. The initiative will focus on worker retention by:

  • Creating a peer mentoring program wherein experienced DSPs will partner with new staff to provide coaching and support.
  • Examining approaches to recruitment, scheduling, pay strategies, and career ladders by drawing on the expertise of an employee development specialist and a Kansas-based disabilities services provider who is implementing successful retention strategies.
  • Adding a structured wellness component to reduce stress and improve DSPs’ health and coping strategies.