Xenia organization honors Direct Support Professionals

XENIA — This week a local organization, that helps improve the lives of those with disabilities, is celebrating its workers and looking to hire.

DSP stands for Direct Support Professional and this week Toward Independence in Xenia, and other organizations across the country are honoring them.

If you travel to Xenia, you will see a large banner hanging across the Main Street.

Mark Schlater, CEO of Toward Independence, said, “We hope thousands of cars pass by here and will ask what’s a DSP.”

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Schlater said his organization has about 250 direct support professionals who work with clients, often in their home, to help them perform tasks that improve their lives.

“It’s also taking them on activities, going places and doing things like providing medication and basic needs of their life,” Schlater said.

But life and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for places like Toward Independence to retain and recruit direct support professionals.

Schlater said, “It is a crisis. We are very short-staffed.”

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He said he could hire as many as 30 to 40 employees in his six-county area right now and many would fill the role of a DSP. But, in a business, mostly funded by Medicade, Schlater said he’s always in a battle for better employee benefits.

“This is something that’s going on for decades. E need state legislators to know this is a real issue. We need more money, more benefits for these hard-working DSP’s,” he said.

Schlater said he will continue to fight behind scenes but wants everyone to know that DSP’s have his support.

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