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Comptroller Survey Concerning Wages of Direct Support Professionals

January 2019

Authors: Kim Potts & Kristina Podesta

Full Report

In 2018, the Tennessee General Assembly appropriated $49 million in state funds and federal matching funds to increase the hourly wages of direct support professionals (DSPs) working under the home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers program administered by the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The appropriation amount was calculated to raise the average wage of DSPs to $10. DSPs working under the waivers program provide support, training, supervision, and personal assistance to adults with disabilities on a daily basis.

The fiscal year 2019 appropriations act directed the Comptroller’s Office to conduct a survey of wages paid to DSPs employed by private provider agencies under the HCBS waivers to determine how the agencies used the increased funding. The Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA), a division of the Comptroller’s Office, sent a survey to 171 agencies and 157 (92 percent) responded.

This report explains Tennessee’s support system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the need for the appropriation, describes how OREA conducted the survey, and analyzes the survey results.