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Direct Support Professional Recognition

This month we are celebrating our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). DSPs are essential for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs). DSPs have major impacts on individuals with IDDs as they are one of the front lines of support they depend on. Let’s take a look at what a DSP is, and what they do on a day-to-day basis.  


What is a DSP?  

According to InCommunity, DSPs provide aid to people who [have] a variety of disabilities and across a wide range of tasks, including transportation, personal care, cooking, and cleaning. The goal is to help people with IDDs achieve a more comfortable level of independence”.




Not only do DSPs care for the individuals in their care, but they make connections as well.

Pictured here: Dana, our Wellness Coordinator, and DSP, with Angie.



What does the life of DSP look like?

DSP workers wear many hats, depending on their client's needs. Daily work for a DSP includes but may not be limited to cooking, cleaning, teaching, driving, guiding, supporting, fostering a safe and respectable environment, and encouraging an independent lifestyle.  


ANCOR and NASDP are both organizations that support DSPs with a focus on individuals with disabilities. Tina Fagen, a DSP who was highlighted by ANCOR and NASDP, states, “being a DSP is very direct, very straightforward. It is also a bit more complicated than some people realize.” 


DSPs work with individuals at all different levels and their job is essential to those in their care. This career field requires compassion, dedication, open-mindedness, and patience. Most of all it is a rewarding career to see the different signs of progress in clients over a period of time.  


See references below for other DSP stories and their day-to-day routines.


Meet Janet, a Marcfirst DSP, and hear about how she spends her days at work.



Misconceptions of DSP

Some may think of DSPs as “babysitters”. categorizes DSPs as teachers, partners, resources, ambassadors, advocates, encouragers, and providers. DSPs are there to support individuals with an IDD. Those individuals are still adults and therefore can make their own choices. DSPs may assist in this process, but at the end of the day, the individual makes their own decisions.  


DSPs are not a boss or one who orders people around and makes them do things they may or may not want to do. Likewise, they are not a parent to the people they support. Their job carries a great deal of responsibility, and it is easy to get these roles confused. Unlike a parent, legal guardian, or conservator, they do not have the responsibility to make important life decisions for the individuals they work with (such as medical or financial decisions). Instead, the individuals themselves, with the assistance of parents, legal guardians, or conservators, as appropriate, make decisions about their own lives 


Here at Marcfirst our DSP workers are highly trained, and they advocate and provide care to the individuals we serve. We take pride in recognizing the importance of our DSPs and hope to shine a light on the necessity of their profession.  



About Ancor

A Day in the Life of a Direct Support Professional, Tina Fagan

Day in the Life of a Direct Support Professional By, Terry Moffenbier 

DSP Different from Caregivers

DSP Roles, Self Care, and Boundaries


The Arc - Direct Support Professional


About the Author:

Ja Tavia Stoot is a communication master's student at Illinois State University. Ja Tavia is originally from La Porte, Texas. She has a passion for health, fitness, and acts of service. Ja Tavia has a background in critical race, gender & sexuality, and marginalized populations studies. This knowledge is used to bring awareness and hopefully inform others.

The views expressed are Ja Tavia Stoot’s and do not necessarily represent the official views of Marcfirst. 

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