At HCDDS, we recognize the importance of providers and direct support professionals (DSPs) in providing quality support to people with disabilities in Hamilton County. We appreciate their ongoing efforts and valued partnership. Our strong collaboration is particularly important as our system continues to confront a workforce shortage that began years ago but has been intensified by the current environment.
From September 2021 through March of this year, HCDDS implemented a Workforce Sustainability Program to support our provider community and offset increased costs due to the ongoing direct support professional (DSP) shortage. During that program, HCDDS issued nearly $2.5 million in provider assistance, including funding for DSP recruitment and retention, as well as necessary overtime costs. Following the Workforce Sustainability Program, providers received significant relief payments funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. HCDDS also continued to support providers by offering training from Blitz Media on recruiting and retaining DSP staff. These efforts have benefited providers and DSPs in the short term, but we know that a longer-term solution is required.
We’re excited to share that the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) recently received federal approval for provider payments focused on DSP retention. These payments are funded by county boards with federal matching funds. Recruitment and retention payments will be issued quarterly to independent providers and participating agency providers for distribution to their DSPs. This program marks one step toward a more sustainable solution that will support providers across the state.
HCDDS has budgeted $4.5 million dollars to fund this program in Hamilton County. Across Ohio, it will result in a $51.48 million investment of local funds and a $91.52 million federal funding match from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). DODD is currently working with stakeholders on developing an administrative rule to implement this initiative.
Federal approval of these matching funds is the result of extensive work by Hamilton County DD Services and county boards across the state, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, and several other provider and advocacy organizations.
We recognize that this program is just one piece of ensuring we support the incredible work of our DSPs, and we look forward to seeing its positive impact. We are also evaluating other ways we can support our providers and DSPs locally to benefit the people we serve and their families. HCDDS will continue to work with our partners across Ohio toward long-term solutions to DSP staffing shortages.