Community Living and Employment
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What is a direct support professional?
DSPs are the paid staff who support individuals with disabilities in living their lives and enjoying the same opportunities and experiences as people without disabilities. DSPs support people in whatever ways they need to enhance inclusion and independence. Learn more here.
All people have the right to live, learn, work, and play. The Community Living and Employment area works to ensure that public policy and services are helping people with disabilities live their best lives in inclusive communities. Through applied research, policy advocacy, and training, we engage with individuals with disabilities, families, providers, policymakers, and community members to influence local, state, and federal policies and support individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan.
The community-based long-term services and supports (LTSS) that make community living and employment possible for people with IDD are funded primarily through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in partnership with states, people with disabilities, advocates, provider agencies, and other stakeholders. LTSS provide assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, and dressing, and instrumental activities of daily living, such as preparing meals, managing medication, and housekeeping. They also assist people to participate fully in all aspects of community life, including personal, professional, and social engagement. LTSS include, but are not limited to, nursing facility care, adult day care programs, home health aide services, personal care services, transportation, and supported employment, as well as assistance provided by a family caregiver. Publicly funded LTSS are provided through State IDD agencies with funding from federal sources, such as Medicaid, and from state sources.
Of the 7.37 million people in the United States with IDD (2016), only 20%, or 1.49 million people, were known to or served by state IDD agencies, and only 17%, 1.23 million people, received long-term services and supports through state IDD agencies. Most people with IDD are not receiving any government supports.