Positions working with people with disabilities jobs are plentiful, according to new job site Impact Oregon.

COURTESY PHOTO: COMMUNITY ACCESS SERVICES - The Impact Oregon job board now carries job listings for direct support professionals for people with disabilities. Here a DSP staff (blue mask) is supporting client in Clatskanie on an outing.

With unemployment back down to 6.4 percent in Oregon, there are still some available jobs that fly under the radar.

Oregon's Office of Developmental Disabilities Services recently launched a job site for careers. There remains a steady demand for people to work in group homes and as caregivers for people who need help with basic tasks such as grocery shopping and bill paying.

Angela Yeager, the spokesperson for the Office of Developmental Disabilities, said the site, called Impact Oregon — — carries hundreds of jobs posted by agencies and nonprofits that rarely have the budget for sites such as Indeed or LinkedIn, or the time to do social media.

There's a staffing shortage. Contractors are looking to hire direct support professionals (DSPs), who go to the homes of people with disabilities to help them.

COURTESY PHOTO: COMMUNITY ACCESS SERVICES - The Impact Oregon job board now carries job listings for direct support professionals for people with disabilities. Here a DSP staffer is supporting client in Clatskanie in a residential services setting

"The majority of Oregonians with developmental disabilities live on their own or in a family home, but we do have group homes in Oregon, and direct support professionals also work in group homes," Yeager said. They might function as a job coach to help someone create a task list or settle into a job in a grocery store.

"But we also have hundreds of other types of jobs. We also have management and administrative type of jobs, and systems management jobs at the state level," Yeager said. "I think the general public doesn't really actually know that this field even exists."

Growing field

Yeager said the job board, which already has 155 listings, helps with outreach "to educate the general public and job seekers that this is a growing field, and that these jobs exist."

She added, "It's not just the Portland metro area; many rural communities love this as a resource. And it's free to post."

Current positions include a job coach in Salem, a residential manager at Wood Village and a caregiver in Brookings. Job coaches are important in the world of developmental disabilities, often finding meaningful work for those overlooked by the mainstream job market. The curious can also click on "explore career type" to see if they have leadership skills.

Anyone who has toiled on government websites trying to get affordable health care, unemployment insurance or a COVID-19 vaccination appointment will be pleasantly surprised by, according to Yeager.

Every job listing has to be vetted by Impact Oregon staff to prevent scams and get-rich-quick postings.

The office has launched a statewide outreach campaign with ads on radio and Facebook and posts on Instagram.

"We created it outside of the physical structure of the state government, because we wanted this to be really interactive, easy to use and something that the general public could really get their heads around," Yeager said.

Looking for work

Anna Keenan-Mudrick is executive director of a large provider organization in Portland called Community Access Services (CAS). It has provided residential, employment and day supports to Oregonians who experience intellectual and/or developmental disabilities for 32 years.

"Recruitment has been a challenge in our field historically, and has become all the more difficult in the last several years as the workforce opportunities statewide have shifted and as longtime direct support professionals and leaders in our field retire," Keenan-Mudrick told the Business Tribune. She says they are in "desperate need" to get the word out about jobs.

A typical DSP might take people who live in a group home on an outing. (A group home is residence model of medical care for those with complex health needs.) It requires people skills many jobseekers already have.

"There are so many of us in this field who are incredibly fulfilled professionally, and we seek to develop others into this career adventure," Keenan-Mudrick said.

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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