Skip to main content

Becoming a Direct Support Worker

Many direct support workers work with people with developmental disabilities in the community, helping them to socialize and make friends, participate in volunteer opportunities, enjoy recreation, go to college, and learn new skills.  These are community support specialists.

Employment specialists are direct support workers that support people when they are working.

Direct support workers who open their homes to people receiving developmental disabilities services are called shared living providers. Shared living providers typically have twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week responsibilities for the one or two individuals who live with them, though individuals may receive other supports during the course of a day (e.g., community supports, employment supports, respite, schooling). Shared living providers operate under contract with local developmental disabilities services agencies and are not considered agency staff or employees.

Some direct support workers are respite providers. Respite providers work in the person’s home or in their own home allowing time off for shared living providers or family members.  Typically respite workers are employed directly by the shared living provider or family member.

To further explore shared living provider opportunities, community or employment support work or respite contact the service provider in your area.