Abstract

Self-directed programs that allow individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to exercise greater control over their finances have become increasingly common in recent years. At the same time, challenges in the recruitment, retention, and training of direct support workers in the field have grown more acute. In this article, the authors investigate the status of the direct support workforce for people using self-directed supports in 1 Midwestern state, based on the results of a statewide survey of service users. Although additional research is needed, the results of this study suggest that people who use self-directed funding options are satisfied with their ability to direct staffing, though challenges remain. Among these challenges, the presence of higher than expected wages but lower than expected benefits provision compared with traditional services may have serious policy and staff retention ramifications that affect the long-term viability of self-directed funding options. In addition, staff training remains a challenge, with service users in this sample reporting low rates of training beyond a general skill set. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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