Getting Ahead Helps Staff Map Out a Better Life
For the nation’s 4.5 million Direct Support Professionals, debt, family tensions, oreven a flat tire can disrupt their ability to provide the highest-quality care to men, women and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
A21-session Getting Ahead in the Workplace course is part of the national Bridges Out of Poverty curriculum, and it’s helping staff tackle life’s most daunting and often generations-deep obstacles.
The class is part of EaRNed Success, a menu of resources for staff who care for some of Northwest Ohio’s most vulnerable men, women and children. EaRNed Success programs help staff emerge from financial crises, work toward a first vehicle or home, disentangle family tensions, escape abuse, or find good child care or a reliable vehicle. It is made possible through a collaborative effort among a half-dozen Lucas County providers and the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Each Getting Ahead class is limited to no more than 13 people, allowing small, confidential discussions that guide participants on a journey of self-discovery and empower them to “create the kind of lives they want to have,” said Crystal Darnell Harris, Getting Ahead in the Workplace facilitator.
While the role of a DSP can be fulfilling and fun, it also can be emotionally and physically demanding, contributing to national turnover in the field estimated at 45%. That, in turn, disrupts high-quality care.
Staff from Sunshine, one of the Northwest Ohio’s largest providers, has made up the lion’s share of the classes – 35 of the 43 graduates since classes began in March, 2017. The Maumee-based nonprofit has begun to more closely track retention and turnover rates to measure the class’s impact overall. Long-term data aren’t yet available, but preliminary results are encouraging. Of the 35 Getting Ahead graduates from Sunshine, 33 remain employed at Sunshine, including four who were promoted. One retired.
“First and foremost, these programs are the right thing to do for the people who provide such life-changing care for others, yet often don’t know where to turn to find help, themselves, ” said Carrie Arnold, Chief Operating Officerat Sunshine. Caregivers who feel more in control of their own destinies, in turn, provide the best care, she added.
“When you’re no longer consumed by how you’ll pay bills or who will watch your children during your next shift, you can focus on the person in front of you – the one who is relying on you for personal care, for a relationship, and for finding purpose in each day,” Arnold said.
The first three classes were funded by the Healthier Buckeye grant that expired Dec. 31. Sunshine was able to help fund the first 2018 class, and providers now are trying to find money for another class this year. The Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities is helping to fund the Success Coach program.
“There is no doubt that these programs are worth every dollar – both for the staff directly using them and for the people they care for,” Arnold said. “The challenge is in finding those dollars.”
For more information or to speak with Getting Ahead graduates at Sunshine, contact Robin Erb, V.P. of Communications at Sunshine at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 419-340-3604.
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