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Dear Network180 Community:
On September 10, 2020, the Michigan Legislature passed Senate Resolution 140 designating September 13-19, 2020 as “Direct Support Professionals Week.” Network180 applauds the recognition of Direct Support Professionals and their important role in helping individuals experiencing a mental illness, substance use disorder or intellectual or developmental disability to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.
Network180 supports and values the work that Direct Support Professionals provide to individuals in Kent County that helps them continue to remain in their communities, maintain connections with family and friends, live enriched lives through employment, education, and recreation and to empower personal interests and choice. Direct Support Professionals develop meaningful relationships with the people they serve and help them live with dignity and respect. If it were not for direct support, many of these individuals would require costly institutional care and be afforded less independence and fewer opportunities for self-actualization.
Like other frontline workers during COVID-19, Direct Support Professionals continue to “suit up and show up,” going to work every day in order to help people with meal preparation, medications, daily living tasks like dressing, bathing and grooming, medical needs, attainment of treatment goals and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Network180 honors the work Direct Support Professionals do every day and are deeply grateful to every person who continues to provide high-quality care to vulnerable individuals residing in residential care settings during the pandemic.
While we recognize and appreciate the critical role Direct Support Professionals fulfill in being able to provide a full continuum of services to individuals in Kent County, Network180 wants to also acknowledge the growing shortage of Direct Support Professionals affecting services throughout the state and nation. Providing direct support is challenging work - it is also rewarding. In Michigan, the average annual salary of a Direct Support Professional is approximately $19,500, making it difficult to retain and hire new Direct Support employees. Network180 supports initiatives that would provide a living wage, benefits and professional development opportunities to these hard-working, dedicated employees and to attract new employees into the field.
Thank you to all of the Direct Support Professionals working throughout Kent County and West Michigan today. We are grateful for the work you do and appreciate your willingness to endure during this difficult time.