Iowa Works Together to Address the DSP Workforce Shortage

April 14, 2023

Like most states, Iowa is experiencing a shortage of direct support professionals, the workers who provide supports and services to individuals with disabilities living in our communities. And like other states, Iowa’s UCEDD has worked for years with state partners to develop and implement strategies to address the shortage. But ongoing challenges, including low wages for difficult work and high rates of turnover, remain.

Recently, our UCEDD joined our sister agency, the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, and other organizations, including the Iowa Association of Community Partners, Iowa Caregivers Association, ASK Resource Center, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Serves and Iowa Workforce Development, to develop a new recruiting tool. “A Job That Matters: Learn How You Could Become a Direct Support Professional” is publication that features a series of stories about the job, the people who need supports and services to live in the community, and the people who do these jobs in different ways. The publication was recently inserted into local Sunday newspapers and is being circulated electronically throughout the state to build awareness and support DSP recruitment. Articles in the publication include:

  • You’re Needed
  • DSPs Make the Difference
  • A Win-Win
  • Caring Hearts Need Apply
  • Dream Job
  • Not Just a Job

One of these articles highlights how Iowa’s LEND program has been playing an important role this year in our collaborative efforts to address the shortage. The article, “A Win-Win,” features current Iowa LEND trainee (for Community) Claire Wilke. She shares her insight based on her personal experience. A recent pre-med graduate of the University of Iowa, Wilke has worked as a direct support professional. As a LEND trainee, she has conducted a statewide environmental scan of relevant stakeholders, surveying community providers, individuals with disabilities and family members, and of course, direct support professionals.

Link to Claire Wilke’s story, “A Win-Win”:

Download a pdf of “A Job That Matters: Learn How You Could Become a Direct Support Professional”:

Link to an online magazine version of the “A Job That Matters: Learn How You Could Become a Direct Support Professional”:

To learn more about the role of Iowa’s UCEDD in workforce development activities, get in touch with Meredith Field at [email protected].