Statewide Workforce Initiative (SWI)

The Court’s October 2021 Action Plan consists of various initiatives and actions the State must engage in to successfully comply with all aspects of the Consent Decree with the intent of adult DD system overhaul and longitudinal stability.

A key aspect of stabilizing the service delivery system is addressing the current DSP (Direct Support Professional) workforce crisis; high staff turnover rates have a negative impact on access to services, continuity of supports, and workforce knowledge, skills, and experiences to support adults with I/DD with complex needs. In an effort to stabilize the workforce, the Action Plan called for a Statewide Workforce Initiative to be created. This initiative is focused on recruitment, retention, and professionalization of the DSP career. 

Rhode Island’s Vision for a Comprehensive DSP Workforce is: “Rhode Island will have a sustainable, comprehensive, diverse DSP workforce who have the knowledge and skills to provide high quality services and supports to individuals with developmental disabilities.” This comprehensive workforce should be defined by:

  • A common definition of DSP, inclusive of DSPs working in various contexts (self-directed/providers, etc.);
  • Redefining of the position to reflect community-based responsibilities
  • Core competencies, which are foundational with a build to specific roles;
  • Career pathways, ladders, and lattices
  • Coordinated recruitment and retention plans/strategies;
  • Training and professional development aligned to competencies; and
  • Compensation that is commensurate with job responsibilities

The State’s approach to this initiative consists of a Core Leadership Team and four subgroups. The core leadership team’s role includes developing a coordinated strategy and maintaining consistency between subgroup tasks, alignment of policy and documents, evaluation activities, and communication and dissemination activities. Under the guidance and leadership of the Core Group are the four subgroups: Recruitment and Retention; Standards and Credentialing; In-service Training/Professional Development; and Institutes of Higher Education (IHE).

Direct Support Professional Competencies

The RI Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Competencies Workgroup has endorsed and adopted the DSP Competency Areas as published by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals in 2016, with minor revisions. Each Competency area has corresponding skill statement which describes the knowledge and skills DSPs must have to demonstrate competency in each area. Through each competency area, DSPs have the opportunity to address challenges, work on issues identified by the person they support, or assist a person in achieving a particular goal. The competencies are accompanied by an additional list of skill and knowledge requirements that The Workgroup has determined essential for success in position of a DSP. This document provides a framework by which DSPs can effectively meet industry and community demand for quality by setting expectations for job performance and a basis for objective performance evaluation.