Athens County approves a plan to increase retention and recruitment rate of DSP workers.

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — An Athens County agency that helps people with disabilities is raising pay to address a worker shortage.

The Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities oversees the direct support professionals program, which provides workers to assist those with special needs. They help with everything from changing clothes to teaching various life skills.

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“The staffing shortage has been in existence for many years actually, and it’s only just been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Arian Smedley, the board’s superintendent.

The board is increasing the hourly rate of DSP workers by $1 an hour as a way to help increase the retention rate and to help recruit additional workers.

For families like the Jolleys, it is important they have DSP workers to help their two daughters. “Their needs are so great, and without one they wouldn’t be making progress in areas of life that they need to learn how to take care of themselves in,” said Heather Jolley, the girls’ mother.

Having the DSP workers also gives the family the ability to have more time of their own. “It frees us up to do those other things that we need to do to support our family,” said father Jason Jolley.

The Board of Developmental Disabilities is waiting for further information from the state on the next steps to be taken.