Video: Employment & Community First

Watch this video to find out what it means to be a direct support professional.

Employment and Community First CHOICES

Employment and Community First CHOICES is an integrated and person-centered program that aligns with incentives toward promoting and supporting integrated, competitive employment and independent living as the first and preferred option for individuals with an Intellectual Disability and/or Developmental Disability.

Currently there are 5 Benefit Groups

  • Group 4 – Essential Family Supports – focus on people who live at home with their families
  • Group 5 – Essential Supports for Employment and Independent Living – focus on people who are 21 or older who are living or want to live independently and pursue employment and community living goals
  • Group 6 – Comprehensive Supports for Employment and Community Living – focus on people who are 21 or older who need a more comprehensive level of support to meet their employment and community living goals
  • Group 7 – Intensive Behavioral Family Supports – focus on children under 21 who live with their family and have I/DD and severe behavior support needs
  • Group 8 – Comprehensive Behavioral Supports for Employment and Community Living – focus on adults who have I/DD and severe behavior support needs and are moving into the community from a place with lots of structure and supervision

The employment supports target a “pathway” to employment and career planning, focused on services that meet people wherever they are in their employment: from exploring their interests and skills, to on-the-job supports, to career advancement. Also, there are supports to individuals and families toward independence and integration and accessing decision-making supports.

People who need more comprehensive supports, there are benefits that recognizes exceptional medical and behavioral needs, and offers residential services that may include up to 24-hour support, in addition to the employment and community services offered in the other benefit packages.

Example of a Direct Support Professional (DSP) job summary

We are looking for a responsible, caring, and compassionate direct support professional (DSP) to join our growing team. The ideal job candidate will be highly dependable and have a passion for helping those with physical and/or mental disabilities live a more fulfilled and happy life. Working one-on-one with each client, you will assess his/her needs and tend to them accordingly with the goal of fostering a positive, encouraging environment.

Direct Support Professional job duties and responsibilities:

  • Be a personal companion to your clients and act as a supportive friend serving their needs and working to build their independence
  • Encourage and foster individuals’ preferred hobbies and interests
  • Assist with and work to strengthen the individuals’ many daily living needs including but not limited to: nutrition, hygiene, exercise, communication and socialization skills
  • Help individuals to bathe, groom and dress, eat and drink if necessary, always working to improve self-reliance
  • Create daily schedules and plans for clients
  • Help set individual goals and track client progress, noting any drastic changes; report findings to superiors
  • Make phone calls and drive clients to appointments, meetings, events, etc.
  • Encourage individual skill development and work towards community integration
  • Develop meaningful relationships and connections with your clients to make them feel cared for and included in the community
  • Follow all health and safety protocol
  • Help clean and tidy home for the individuals
  • Attend continued education courses, training and get further certified as the job requires
  • Be a compassionate, patient and encouraging support professional at all times; you are a caregiver, cheerleader and advocate rolled into one and your work can change the lives of many for the better

Direct Support Professional requirements and qualifications

  • Minimum high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Valid driver’s license
  • CPR certification
  • Pass state background check (dependent on state requirements)
  • Comfortable working independently and can consistently make good judgements that benefit the client
  • Flexible, with a keen ability to handle stress well
  • A friendly disposition with a positive ‘can-do’ attitude
  • Computer literate and technologically savvy
  • Experience tracking and recording information
  • Enjoys working with developmentally disabled individuals to improve their quality of life
  • Can quickly manage stressful situations responsibly and effectively
  • Strong interpersonal skills and passionate about helping those in need
  •  Ability to move and stand for prolonged periods and frequently perform physically demanding tasks

Direct Support Professional (DSP) job opportunities in Tennessee by Region 





East and Middle

West and Middle

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