Nominate Your Staff for “DSP of the Year”

Recognize and celebrate your best direct support professionals by nominating them for one of these DSP awards.

DSP Recognition Week takes place every year in September, so you might be looking for some ways to honor and celebrate your amazing DSPs.  


While you can’t go wrong with a pizza party, there are plenty of other creative ways to show your DSPs they’re appreciated.  


One idea that’s gaining traction is to nominate your staff for a “DSP of the Year” award. Below, we’ll share why you might want to consider nominating your staff, as well as a list of organizations that give out DSP awards.   

Why nominate your staff for an award?

Working as a DSP can be a rewarding job, but it can also be exhausting and challenging. Nominating a DSP for an award can provide much-needed validation for their hard work. In some cases, the award may even come with some fun perks or cash prizes.  


Several national organizations offer “DSP of the Year” awards to recognize the exceptional work and contributions of individuals in the field of direct support services. Here are some examples:  

American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)

ANCOR is a national organization that advocates for community-based services for individuals with disabilities. The ANCOR “DSP of the Year” awards celebrate direct support professionals who go above and beyond in their service provision. An award is given to one DSP in each state, as well as one national award and a handful of special category awards. Nominations are accepted from DSP Week in September through the end of November, and the awards are presented as part of the ANCOR Annual Conference each spring.  

Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE)

APSE is a national membership organization focused on inclusive employment and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Each year, APSE’s Certified Employment Support Professional™ (CESP) of the Year Award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Employment First. Nominations are collected in the spring and the winner is announced at the annual APSE Conference.  

National Association for the Dually Diagnosed (NADD)

NADD is a leader in education, training, and policy advocacy whose mission is to raise the level of care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and mental health needs. NADD’s annual DSP Award for Excellence recognizes a direct support professional whose contribution has significantly improved the quality of life for individuals with IDD/MI. The recipient receives a plaque and a cash award of $100. The deadline to submit nominations is October 31. 

Regional and local awards

In addition to national associations, many regional and local organizations offer DSP of the Year awards. These awards are often aimed at acknowledging the outstanding work of direct support professionals within their communities.  

For instance, the Ohio Association of County Boards (OACB) recognizes a “DSP of the Year” who exemplifies the field’s standards of professionalism, integrity, compassion, and respect. The recipient is invited to OACB’s Annual Awards Reception, where they will receive one night of lodging and dinner for their family. Likewise, Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources (PAR) honors individuals who have demonstrated innovative support and action for people with intellectual disability and/or autism through their “We Are Worth It” Direct Support Professional awards.  

Know someone who deserves to be nominated?

Nominating your DSPs for an award is one of the best ways to show your appreciation for their hard work and dedication. Whether it’s a national or local recognition, the above awards not only celebrate the incredible DSPs who make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities, but also provide opportunities for them to receive additional perks or cash prizes. Don’t miss this chance to shine a light on the remarkable DSPs at your agency who go above and beyond in their service provision! 

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