Direct Support Professional

Pay Rate: $16.00-$18.00 (Shift Differential applied during evenings/overnights/weekends) 

Reportable to the assigned Supervisor or Program Coordinator, the Direct Support Professional provides support and care to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and/or autism in their homes and communities. The overall goal of the Direct Support Professional is to carry out The Arc of Centre County’s mission – to embody and protect the human rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to practice person-centered planning which actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. The DSP will be assigned to work in either a community home (or homes) owned by The Arc or at a location(s) assigned by the Home and Community Services Department (HCS).

Overview of Duties/Essential Functions: 

  1. The DSP shall be responsible to support adults with disabilities of all ages who need assistance to lead self-directed lives and contribute to their communities, and support activities that enhance inclusion in their communities. 
  2. The DSP is responsible to assure that quality support and services are provided to people residing in the programs to which he/she has been assigned, and that the philosophy of The Arc is adhered to at all times. 
  3. The DSP is responsible for teaching daily living skills, communication and work skills, administering medications and first aid, providing safe transportation, assisting with or coordinating medical and other support service appointments, maintaining accurate and detailed documentation and records, and safeguarding the monetary and personal resources of people supported. 
  4. The DSP is responsible to ensure that services occur in accordance with the individual’s established plans. Services should occur in varied settings including in the person’s home, their community, or other locations, as requested by the person and as allowed by the parameters of established service definitions.  
  5. The DSP will understand and respect each person as an individual and the human rights of each person, implement person-centered approaches, use people-first language consistently, actively advocate for each person’s rights, encourage choice and community inclusion, and protect each person’s right to privacy and confidentiality. 
  6. The DSP shall demonstrate knowledge of and adherence to the following: The Arc’s policies and procedures, licensing and accreditation rules (ODP, etc.), fire safety, bloodborne pathogen/OSHA requirements, crisis prevention, behavior management, restrictive procedures, and HIPAA/compliance requirements.
  7. The DSP shall have knowledge of each person supported in the following areas: personal history, home and work representatives, goals and objectives, support service staff, goals identified by and for each person supported, medical history, and knowledge of family members/friends. 
  8. The DSP will read all available incoming diagnostic and other materials concerning people supported, such as medical evaluations, psychological examinations, psychiatric evaluations, crisis plans and individual person-centered planning tools as appropriate. 
  9. The DSP shall  assist each person to overcome  challenges associated with leading self-directed lives (e.g. exercising human and civil rights, obtaining access and accommodations as desired, meeting financial obligations and obtaining entitlements and supports).
  10. The DSP will assist and support each person to understand his/her rights and will utilize their chain of command to advocate for recommended and necessary supports or services for each person. If any rights or abuse violations are suspected, DSPs and all employees of The Arc are expected to immediately follow the chain of command/contact the assigned Point Person to report these concerns.
  11. The DSP will provide training/mentoring to colleagues on rights and abuse prevention, and will teach and support people with disabilities to report rights and abuse issues.The DSP will promote independent living skills and will encourage each person to accomplish tasks (e.g - household work, cooking, laundry, etc.), appropriate to each person’s abilities.
  12. The DSP is responsible to use a range of communication skills and strategies to establish a collaborative relationship with each person supported, co-workers, and people who are important to the person supported. 
  13. DSPs will promote positive working relationships with others, welcome guests and visitors in a cordial manner, initiate and maintain good community contacts and relationships, and communicate effectively with outside agencies, guardians, and community members. DSPs will maintain professional relationships and boundaries, free of unprofessional speculation or gossip.
  14. The DSP is responsible to assist the person supported to manage every day aspects of life by teaching and providing support in a manner that builds on individual strengths and capabilities and maximizes choices. 
  15. When interacting with or teaching a person with disabilities, the DSP shall use an appropriate voice tone and level, use positive interactions, allow a reasonable response time for learning, and provide clear instructions.
  16. The DSP will encourage people to make choices and use non-threatening, non-physical, least restrictive  and positive approaches. Action will be taken to prevent escalation of potentially harmful behavior, and crisis prevention and intervention will be provided when necessary. 
  17. The DSP is responsible to use formal and informal methods to learn about the needs, desires and interests of the person. This employee is responsible to assist the person supported to identify and use the formal and informal supports available in his/her community, family and social network. 
  18. The DSP will collaborate with the person and others to plan and implement individualized supports in an ethical, holistic and professional manner that builds upon individual strengths and capabilities and maximizes choices, mobilizes resources and provides the support necessary for the person to engage in satisfying work, education or daily activity, assist each person to identify needs, desires, and goals for the future.
  19. The DSP will promote an active lifestyle with healthy nutritional choices. This includes teaching meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking skills/meal preparation, and encouraging various forms of exercise. The DSP will encourage healthy familiar and novel foods and activities. 
  20. DSPs will promote social norms and responsible citizenship, such as the use of recycling, and participation in voting.
  21. The DSP will encourage the people they support to keep their home in a clean and orderly fashion. If the services are being provided in a community home, it will be the ultimate responsibility of the DSP to ensure that the home is clean, neat and orderly and that all other normal functions (cooking, laundry) take place in a timely manner and in accordance with agency policy and relevant regulations. 
  22. The DSP will assist people to develop natural supports within their communities, teach people skills to become self-advocates, support each person to maintain an active role with family members, guardian, outside organizations, ODP and others when appropriate, assist each person to be aware of and take part in social, recreational and civic opportunities of their choice within the community, encourage and support each person to speak for themselves rather than speaking for them or about them.
  23. The DSP will assist each person to identify and address medical needs as they arise, facilitate and/or coordinate the medical service needs of persons supported, and support each person to coordinate the timely arrangement of all professional evaluations and services provided by outside providers and consultants.
  24. The DSP will be responsible for understanding what constitutes a medical emergency as defined by the ODP’s January 2015 Health Alert. DSPs will act accordingly during an emergency by calling 911 immediately without first contacting their Chain of Command.
  25. If assigned to a program where medications are administered by DSPs, the DSP will attend and complete a Medication Administration Training Course (How to Administer Medications the Right Way). When assigned, the DSP will be responsible for administering the correct medication to the right person, at the right time, using the correct route and dosage. The DSP will also: observe and work with persons supported to identify signs and symptoms of adverse medication reactions, teach people supported about their medications and the intended outcome of each, accurately document the administration of medications, operate and maintain specialized equipment such as adaptive technology, communication devices, breathing or nutritional support equipment, etc.
  26. The DSP will be responsible for accurate documentation of all time worked through the assigned payroll procedures and in accordance with all Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) procedures and will inform their Chain of Command with questions or concerns.
  27. The DSP will participate professionally in all surveys, inspections, and accreditations, implement the Fire Prevention, Fire Evacuation and Disaster Plan Policies in each home/department. Identify, remediate if possible, and report maintenance problems in a timely manner, keep entrances and exits free of ice, debris and snow, and properly salted, and assist with lawn/yard maintenance, as directed. 
  28. The DSP will attend and actively participate in all staff meetings and training sessions, using these sessions as a time to collaborate and focus on shared goals, and will add topics to the meeting agendas/discussions when necessary.
  29. The DSP is encouraged to pursue opportunities for professional growth and to share knowledge and resources with others and to actively participate in in-services, training, and conferences to enhance knowledge and skills in the human services field. The DSP must maintain 26 hours of human services training per year as established by policy and ODP requirements.
  30. The DSP will follow all agency safety-related policies and procedures, report medical emergencies as required by policy, report and take required action with regard to injuries, incidents and accidents involving persons supported by The Arc and employees as required by policy.
  31. The DSP will be aware of Incident Management policies and procedures (as they relate to unusual incidents) and will report these reportable incidents to the assigned Point Person as soon as possible.
  32. The DSP will maintain required levels of supervision/frequency and duration of services and support for people at all times as specified in the Individual Support Plan.
  33. The DSP will provide safe and reliable transportation. 
  34. The DSP will follow their Chain of Command to resolve concerns and conflicts, and will understand reasons that might necessitate contact with the Compliance Officer or Human Resources.
  35. The DSP will protect the privacy of persons supported, follow all HIPAA policies and procedures, review and comment on all policies and procedures being proposed or revised, and will report violations of The Arc’s policies and procedures to their supervisor.
  36. The DSP will work scheduled hours unless otherwise approved by their supervisor, be punctual to meetings and work, demonstrate willingness and the ability to work a flexible schedule to meet needs of persons supported including working days, evenings, overnights, weekends, and holidays as scheduled. 
  37. The DSP will complete documentation and writing responsibilities in a timely, accurate, detailed, legible and objective manner, using correct spelling and grammar, and will complete all Incident Reports and other forms accurately and in a timely manner. Service documentation must be completed the same day as the service is provided. 
  38. The DSP will be highly motivated, take initiative, accept responsibilities and approach change enthusiastically, and will present themselves and The Arc in a positive, professional manner.
  39. The DSP will serve as a model for those we serve in regards to hygiene, dress, communication, and other areas of professional behavior.


To perform this position successfully, an individual should demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Leadership Skills: Demonstrates ethics and integrity; Displays drive and purpose; Exhibits leadership stature; Increases capacity to learn; Manages self; Increases self-awareness; Develops adaptability; Communicates effectively; Develops others; Values diversity and differences; Builds and maintains relationships.
  • Verbal and Written Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and informatively; Edits work for spelling and grammar; Able to read and interpret written information with great attention to detail.
  • Team Player: Acts as a member of a team by supporting everyone’s efforts to succeed; Balances team and individual responsibilities; Leads by example; Contributes to building a positive team spirit; Exhibits objectivity and openness to others’ views; Gives and welcomes constructive feedback.
  • Quality: Demonstrates accuracy, thoroughness and attention to detail; Looks for ways to improve and promote quality; Applies feedback to improve performance; Monitors own work to ensure quality.
  • Independence: Capable of working independently under the direction of their supervisor; Prioritizes and plans work activities; Uses time effectively; Takes responsibility for own actions; Completes work on time or notifies supervisor if alternative plans are necessary.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Capable of comfortably interacting with diverse populations with appropriate sensitivity; Remains open to others’ ideas; Maintains confidentiality.
  • Financially Responsible: Ensures that accurate financial records, receipts, and monies are maintained for individual and household accounts; Spends agency money as assigned and in a responsible manner.

  1. The DSP must possess a High School Diploma or equivalent. Previous experience working with individuals with an intellectual disability, behavioral health and/or medical needs is preferred (but not required). 
  2. The DSP shall have essential physical skills – be able to run, squat, stoop/bend, kneel, climb stairs, be able to lift at least 50 pounds (or ¼ own body weight), push and pull against potential resistance; and be able to implement non-physical and physical interventions and CPR with people supported when needed.
  3. The DSP shall have adequate vision, reading, writing and documentation skills and hearing to perform the essential functions of the job.
  4.   Must be able to work a flexible schedule including early mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends, overnight periods, and holidays.
  5.   Must be 18 years of age or older.
  6. The DSP must possess and maintain a valid driver’s license and be able to transport individuals in The Arc vehicles. The DSP will be required to have motor vehicle reports completed on the date of hire (or up to five days prior) and then have these completed after six months of employment, and annually thereafter. Some assignments (i.e. - HCS) require the use of the DSP’s personal vehicle. If the DSP is assigned to HCS or another service that requires personal vehicle transport, the DSP will provide The Arc with the required documentation and be approved to provide such transportation.
  7. This employee must be able to provide assistance, as needed, in safely loading and unloading vehicle passengers and assist individuals to safety in emergency situations.
  8. The DSP must obtain a physical examination/TB test as required by Office of Developmental Programming (ODP) regulations and is required to have this repeated biannually.
  9. Must obtain criminal clearances as required. These could include: the Pennsylvania criminal history check, FBI criminal history check, and child abuse clearances in accordance with ODP regulations.
  10. Demonstrated ability to adhere to the required schedule for the job.

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