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Citizen Advocates applauds vital work of DSPs


Direct Support Professional Kim Oesterling works with individuals such as Russell Eurto who attend Day Habilitation programming provided by Citizen Advocates.  Kim is one of the many DSPs who fulfill the desire for independence and sense of belonging for those they support.

Direct Support Professionals provide around-the-clock care and supports

NORTHERN NEW YORK – Next week, Citizen Advocates is commemorating National Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week and celebrating the vital role of these specialized caregivers in supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

DSP Recognition Week (Sept. 11-17) is celebrated annually across the country with special events and ceremonies to honor the tens of thousands of workers who empower people with intellectual, developmental or other disabilities to live healthy lives of their choosing.

“Our DSPs are dynamic, compassionate and creative folks who strive every day to make lives better by providing exceptional services to those we support in a variety of settings,” said Kati Jock, Chief Operations Officer of Citizen Advocates.  “They advance the mission of Citizen Advocates by performing challenging and personalized work 24 hours a day to meet a broad range of needs for individuals and their families.”

Those outside the health and human services field may be unfamiliar with the term ‘Direct Support Professional.’  DSPs perform a significant amount of essential work behind the scenes to assist with the routines of daily life.  Whether through physical care, participating in recreational activities, teaching social skills or developing job skills in community settings, DSPs fulfill the desire for independence and sense of belonging for those they support.

Working as a DSP allows one the opportunity to meet individuals of all ages and variety of backgrounds, becoming an integral part of someone’s life.  DSPs are instrumental in providing those they support with new experiences, witnessing someone else’s growth and transformation firsthand.  Each individual served by Citizen Advocates is unique and each DSP must be able to cultivate a successful relationship based on trust and understanding.  This requires patience, emotional-intelligence, resilience and the ability to solve problems efficiently while aiding someone else.

“DSPs do so much to support others; it’s our job to support them,” said Heather Wenzel, Senior Director of Operations at Citizen Advocates.   “DSP Recognition Week is one of the many ways we offer a heart-felt thank you to our frontline staff.  Earlier this year, we were proud to increase our DSP starting wage range to $16 to $22 per hour, and only last month, we expanded our dental, vision and life insurance benefits to better support our workforce.”

Citizen Advocates has planned celebrations during the week to honor and recognize DSPs who work in residential settings, day habilitation and community-based services across its six-county base in Northern New York. To learn more about becoming a Direct Support Professional, click here.