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Jerry Smith.

Smith Wins Kennedy Award

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) recently presented the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Award for Direct Support Workforce Advocacy & Leadership to Jerry Smith, ICI’s marketing and business development manager, who has directed dozens of films about community living for people with disabilities. In a statement coinciding with the organization’s annual conference, NADSP President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Macbeth evoked the Kennedy family’s legacy of supporting disability issues through informed public policies and strategies that strengthen the role of direct support workers.

“We name this prestigious award after our founder, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and bestow it upon those who have dedicated their careers to upholding this noble vision,” Macbeth said. Read more.

Building Bridges

Families waiting for diagnostic and intervention services for children exhibiting signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) wait even longer if they live in rural areas or come from culturally or linguistically diverse communities. Now, teams from the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain will help bridge the gap with interim telehealth interventions.

Researchers from ICI and the UMN Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics – both part of MIDB – will conduct a large-scale, randomized control trial of Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Intervention and diagnostic services that are delivered via telehealth. The project aims to improve communication and challenging behavior using a supplemental model of support while families await formal ASD evaluation or intervention. 

“The wait time between when a family is concerned about their child’s development and when services and supports are actually delivered can last years, which is a significant problem,” said Jessica Simacek, director of the MIDB TeleOutreach Center and the principal investigator on the project. “This project will accomplish a number of important goals, expanding on a model we have been exploring for some time, and doing so on a larger scale.” Read more.

The report title and date, the logos of NADSP and ICI, and part of a sample page from the report.

New National Report on DSPs During COVID-19 Pandemic

ICI’s Research and Training Center on Community Living for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, in partnership with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, surveyed approximately 5,400 direct support professionals (DSPs) and frontline supervisors nationwide about their experiences supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities during the pandemic. This 12-month report is a follow-up to the initial report completed in April 2020 and a six-month follow-up report. These reports represent the largest study of the direct support workforce.

Among the key findings: 69% of respondents reported they were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 26% were not vaccinated; 93% of employers did not require direct support workers to get vaccinated. Read more.