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Social Impact Perspectives, Vol. 3 – A Crisis Continues

According to a recent report by, the crisis for caregivers serving adults with intellectual disabilities is a significant and pressing concern. The shortage of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) continues to escalate, leaving families and individuals with intellectual disabilities without the necessary support systems. This shortage puts immense strain on caregivers who are already overwhelmed with their caregiving responsibilities.

Here are some eye-opening statistics from that shed light on the gravity of the situation:

  • The turnover rate for DSPs in 2022 was a staggering 60%, leading to inconsistent support for adults with intellectual disabilities.
  • Across the country, Medicaid reimbursement rates for services provided to adults with intellectual disabilities are on average 27% below the cost-of-service provision, making it difficult to attract and retain qualified caregivers.
  • In Oklahoma alone, there are approximately 80,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities who require support, but the state's DSP turnover rate is at an alarming 67%.

The Impact on Caregivers:
Caregiving for adults with intellectual disabilities is a labor of love, but it also takes a toll on the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of caregivers. The lack of proper resources, adequate compensation, and support systems exacerbate the challenges they face. They often struggle to find respite care, access training and professional development opportunities, and maintain a fulfilling work-life balance.

Call to Action for Oklahoma Legislators:
To address the crisis for caregivers serving adults with intellectual disabilities, we urge Oklahoma legislators to take the following actions:

  • Increase Funding: Allocate additional funds to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for services provided to adults with intellectual disabilities. Increasing reimbursement rates will incentivize more caregivers to enter and remain in the field, ensuring consistent and quality support.
  • Improve Workforce Training: Encourage the development of comprehensive training programs that equip DSPs with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively serve adults with intellectual disabilities. Investing in professional development opportunities will help attract and retain a highly qualified workforce.
  • Expand Respite Care Services: Establish and expand respite care programs that offer relief to caregivers. Respite care provides temporary breaks for caregivers, allowing them to recharge and maintain their own well-being, which in turn, will enhance the quality of care provided to individuals with intellectual disabilities.
  • Enhance Collaboration: Foster collaboration between government agencies, healthcare providers, and community-based organizations to streamline services and ensure a coordinated approach to care. This collaboration will enable the creation of a robust and integrated support system for adults with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers.

The crisis for caregivers serving adults with intellectual disabilities in the United States demands immediate attention. By implementing the recommended actions, Oklahoma legislators have the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their dedicated caregivers. Together, let's work towards building a society that provides the necessary support, resources, and recognition to those who tirelessly care for our loved ones with intellectual disabilities.

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