Addressing the Direct Support Professional Shortage

Quality Direct Support Professionals (DSP) are vital to the lives of people with disabilities. They are the professionals that provide supports such as helping with employment, providing personal care, and are sometimes the support that someone with a disability needs to be able to live independently.

A shortage of DSPs has been mounting in the United States for years now, with a 2022 report finding that 71% of case managers are struggling to find available providers for direct support services. With DSPs being such a vital workforce, tune into Addressing the Direct Support Professional Shortage TRAINING series, to learn more about the challenges and solutions!

Why you should tune in

Understand the everyday lives of Direct Support Professionals and the need to support this essential workforce. Being a DSP is not just a job, but a skilled career and must be valued as such! Tune into this podcast/vodcast series to learn about the variables behind this workforce crisis and how you can get involved in the solutions.

Learn all the ins and outs by watching a vodcast (video) or listening to a podcast (audio) episode below!

Episode 1 – What is a Direct Support Professional (DSP)? Featuring Jennifer Ochs, Ms. Wheelchair Colorado 2023


  • 2:15 – What is a DSP?
  • 8:15 – The work DSPs do for those with Developmental Disabilities
  • 9:55 – Who can be a DSP?
  • 12:20 – Why DSPs are vital
  • 14:13 – Understanding and Respecting DSPs, closing thoughts from Jennifer Ochs.
Listen to “TRAININGS E71: What is a Direct Support Professional (DSP)?” on Spreaker.

Episode 2: Why are we Facing a DSP Shortage? Featuring Josh Rael, Executive Director of Alliance Colorado


  • 2:58 – The challenges posed by the DSP shortage
  • 6:45 – The increase in demand for DSPs in recent years
  • 7:00 – Waiver Services – Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) are Medicaid provided services that support people with disabilities to live in their communities. These services are offered through a system of “waivers”. Learn more about the HCBS Waivers in Colorado from this Tool.
  • 9:40 – Considering the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) of DSPs in IDD social justice
  • 12:15 – Addressing low rates of pay for DSPs
  • 17:30 – Raising awareness of the importance of DSPs
  • 18:20 – Alliance has a job board where you can learn about job opportunities as a DSP in the Colorado IDD community. Visit
  • 22:25 – National statistics about the DSP workforce crisis impact, closing thoughts from Josh Rael

*Please note that that the term ‘Community Centered Boards (CCBs)’ mentioned in this product has been replaced with ‘Case Management Agencies (CMAs)’ as of 2024. For further details, refer to this handout for a brief explanation, or explore the changes in more depth here.

Listen to “TRAININGS E72: Why are we Facing a DSP Shortage?” on Spreaker.

Episode 3: Solutions to Address the DSP Shortage with Pascale Adou from HCPF’s Direct Care Workforce Collaborative


  • 2:15 – Refresher on the reasons behind the DSP shortage
  • 6:20 – Strategies to address the shortage
  • 13:00 – Recruiting DSPs right now
  • 15:45 – Getting involved in making change for DSPs
  • 20:50 – Change will come and Appreciation for DSPs, final thoughts from Pascale Adou
Listen to “TRAINING E73: Solutions to Address the DSP Shortage” on Spreaker.

Episode 4: The Perspective of a long-term DSP with Elizabeth Lucke, DSP Caregiver


  • 2:15 – Falling in love with being a DSP
  • 3:30 – Elizabeth’s duties as a DSP
  • 7:40 – The best part of being a DSP
  • 8:45 – The importance of a DSP in an individual with IDD’s life
  • 13:40 – Why become a DSP?
  • 17:35 – Self-care and preventing burn out as a DSP
  • 21:00 – Learn more about Host Home Providers by taking this course.
  • 21:25 – How to make DSP’s lives better
  • 24:00 – What to know if you are thinking about becoming a DSP?
  • 28:10 – We need to come together to support vulnerable populations and include them in our communities, closing thoughts from Elizabeth Lucke.
Listen to “TRAININGS E74: The Perspective of a long-term DSP” on Spreaker.

Made possible through support from Developmental Pathways, Arc Thrift Stores, The Arc of Aurora, and Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council.