PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead and JEVS Human Services (JEVS) leadership and trainees recently celebrated the successful completion of the Work Ready Direct Support Professional (DSP) Innovation Pilot Project, an initiative that connected pilot participants with the training necessary to secure employment in this essential field.
DSPs are individuals who provide direct support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities so that they can fully participate in an everyday life at home and in their communities. DSPs are essential to helping individuals with disabilities increase their independence.
“Direct support professionals are the backbone of the human services infrastructure, helping people live at home and in their communities with dignity and independence. However, like so many other sectors, the direct support profession has been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic,” Snead said. “The caring workforce is essential and touches all our lives. By investing time, resources, and training at the beginning, we know that we are not only preparing people to be successful in their jobs, but we are helping to ensure that those in our communities who need direct support will be able to receive it.”
The Work Ready DSP Innovation Pilot Project created a new pathway for a career as a DSP. JEVS Work Ready, also supported by DHS, helps Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients prepare, train, and connect to family-sustaining jobs and provides skills and social supports to help them prepare for and succeed in the workforce.
“JEVS was proud to partner with DHS to build a stronger pathway for our Work Ready participants to join the workforce as a DSP,” said Cynthia Figueroa, JEVS president and CEO. “This innovative project helped remove barriers to becoming a DSP and helped connect qualified candidates to jobs.”
The minimum qualification for entry-level DSP roles is a high school diploma. However, other requirements such as a driver’s license and computer skills present barriers to otherwise qualified individuals. The JEVS pilot project sought to remove those barriers by offering financial incentives to complete various parts of the program, a peer and supervisor mentorship program, and helping trainees navigate requirements like background checks, and much more. When they completed the program, qualified candidates were directly connected to job openings, with a starting pay of $15/hour plus benefits.
JEVS Human Services (JEVS) is a nonprofit organization, with services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. JEVS helps people become independent, graduate, get jobs, and live on their own. The organization creates innovative and sustainable solutions to address current and future needs, prioritizing efforts that grow the economy and make our communities safer.