Fulfilling Tennessee’s Commitment to People with Disabilities

An average $15 an hour wage for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) is key to ensuring Tennessee keeps its DSPs from being lured to better paying jobs in other industries, and will help to preserve the continuity of support critical to the well-being of Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Problem: TNCO research has validated that the previous rate increase to an average $10 an hour wage had the effect of reducing turnover by approximately 10% across a statewide sample of 40 provider agencies. While this is a positive outcome, we cannot stop here. This is proof that any additional monetary increases per hour for DSPs will have a much needed and similar result of reducing staff turnover even more so.

The consistent quality of healthcare for thousands of Tennesseans with disabilities now and in the immediate future is in potential jeopardy if we don’t find a way to stabilize the direct care workforce, especially in the face of growing private sector competition.

The Solution: Providers are seeking a rate formula that supports an average $15 an hour DSP wage, with an escalator clause to maintain a viable wage. We project that it will take about $100 million in state funding to reach $15. Some legislators have asked providers to pursue a pay rate that would have a longer-term solution to the DSP crisis, therefore this year we are seeking a rate formula that supports in today’s dollars a DSP wage of $15 an hour and includes an annual cost of living adjustment.

TNCO believes that DSPs need and deserve a minimum of $15 per hour as competitive compensation for the high level of specialization and responsibility their positions require and their irreplaceable role in delivering continuity of care.

How You Can Help: Tennessee, let’s keep our DSPs. Call your state senator and representative  today and ask that Tennessee Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) wages be raised to an average of $15 an hour.

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