FREELAND, Md. – Jan. 9, 2017 –Penn-Mar Human Services in conjunction with Kay and Jim Pitts, of Naples, Florida, announce their gift of $1.5 million that establishes The Michael James Pitts Endowment for the Advancement of Direct Support Professionals. Their gift recognizes the vital role Direct Support Professionals play in “Transforming Life into Living” for the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who Penn-Mar supports.
Penn-Mar Human Services has had a tremendously positive affect on Michael and the Pitts family over the last 9 years. This generous gift establishes an endowment to fund, in perpetuity, Penn-Mar’s newly launched Direct Support Professional Career Ladder initiative. The mentored DSP Credentialing program will improve Penn-Mar’s employee recruitment and retention efforts, and addresses the challenges of an increasingly demanding employment environment that is plagued with high turnover. With this gift The Penn-Mar Foundation has a goal of building the fund to $10 million and will allow Penn-Mar to remain a premier service provider.
“We are honored and blessed to receive this transformational gift,” said Gregory T. Miller, Penn-Mar’s president and CEO. “Jim and Kay Pitts exemplify leadership at the highest level and their investment in Penn-Mar is both exciting and humbling. Many lives will be touched in a very positive way because of their generosity.”
As a recognized leader in providing quality supports and services for adults with IDD in Maryland and Pennsylvania, Penn-Mar pioneers ground-breaking programs that provide a high quality of life experiences, empower individuals to secure employment, contribute to their communities, build a network of social relationships and create opportunities for life-long learning. Additionally they provide exceptional care for medically involved clients such as Michael who requires 24 hour care. Having knowledgeable, experienced and skilled DSPs ensures that individuals can achieve these outcomes and live meaningful, productive lives.
“Direct Support Professionals have been an integral part of Michael’s life for over 30 years,” said Jim Pitts. “These are the individuals that we have trusted to care for his needs over that time. It is our desire to see that this initiative make a difference in the lives of individuals that work and live at Penn-Mar and to set the benchmark for educating and certifying these professionals throughout the country.”
About Penn-Mar’s Direct Support Professional Career Ladder Initiative
Penn-Mar’s DSP Career Ladder initiative is a vital component of a comprehensive recruitment and retention strategy that involves training, career path and credentialing development and a compensation plan. There is a rigorous standard to be accepted in the program. Performance metrics, along with input from colleagues, individuals and families are taken in to consideration when choosing candidates as well as an evaluation tool for their performance in the future. Candidates need to apply for each of three levels of advancement and meet certain performance standards to be eligible to move on to the next level of the program. The entire process of certification is lengthy and requires a minimum of 100 hours of course work and practicums. The objective measurement of skill demonstration will be completed by the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) with whom Penn-Mar is partnering. By developing these standards that lead to professional credentialing and commensurate compensation, Penn-Mar is leading the national efforts to provide high-quality training and opportunities for Direct Support Staff that will ultimately reform the discrepancy between their unique skill sets and insufficient wages.
About Penn-Mar Human Services
Penn-Mar Human Services, founded in 1981, serves more than 400 adults with intellectual disabilities through its residential, respite, educational, vocational and supported employment programs in northern Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties in Maryland, and in southern York County in Pennsylvania. www.penn-mar.org