RCM of Washington's first-of-its-kind training program is aimed at providing career opportunities to people with disabilities while also addressing the shortage of direct service professionals.
RCM is a Washington based company that provides support to people with disabilities. The company's goal is twofold — provide career opportunities to people with disabilities while also addressing the shortage of home health aides and Direct Service Professionals (DSPs).
The RCM program tailored for people with disabilities in the nation’s capital is the first of its kind, classes are held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday to complete the 120-hour course over six weeks. Potential employers are supportive of the program and the opportunity for new hires.
DSPs help people with developmental and intellectual disabilities live more independently by helping them complete tasks like bathing, cleaning, transportation, and cooking.
It is free to attend the DSP program, the program is funded by Washington’s Department on Disability Services. Those who become employed as DSPs are typically paid through Medicaid, with an average hourly wage of $11 to $12, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
According to the Labor Department, only about 20 percent of people with disabilities are employed. At the same time, the annual turnover rate for DSPs nationwide is 45 percent, said Gabrielle Sedor, chief operations officer at the American Network of Community Options and Resources, or ANCOR, a trade group for service providers to people with disabilities.
Training programs like the DSP Academy help people with disabilities feel “included, supported and empowered,” Sedor said. “We recognize that people with disabilities can contribute mightily to any workforce.”
Juan John has a hearing impairment, he is learning to become a Direct Service Professional (DSP) at RCM of Washington, D.C., where she plans to earn a certification to work in the field as an aide to people with disabilities.
“There are not enough people trying to advocate for people with disabilities,” John said. “I’m going to love this job because I’ve been through this and I know what it feels like to not be supported. I can connect with them because that was me.”