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TRENTON – Department of Human Services (DHS) Deputy Commissioner Dawn Apgar today honored the service of Direct Support Professionals, who provide direct personal assistance to people with disabilities.  Held at the New Jersey Law Center, New Brunswick, approximately 100 invited guests from human services agencies and advocacy organizations across the state attended this event.  Dr. Apgar presented a proclamation from Governor Chris Christie, designating September 9-13, 2013, as Direct Support Professional Recognition Week in New Jersey.  The Governor’s Proclamation notes that, “every day in New Jersey more than 30,000 men and women work as Direct Support Professionals, providing exemplary and critical care to hundreds of thousands of children and adults with disabilities.”

Direct Support Professionals receive training to appropriately assist people with disabilities with a variety of tasks, such as meal preparation; assistance in taking medications; bathing; dressing; getting to school or work; and attending a variety of community activities. 
“Today, we honor Direct Support Professionals for the essential work that they do and for their commitment to this personally rewarding career,” said Dr. Apgar.  “Direct Support Professionals make it possible for people with disabilities to achieve full participation in their community life.”
The event featured panel discussions with Direct Support Professionals, individuals with disabilities, and their family members about the value of direct supports and the positive impact these supports have on their daily lives. 
“There is a trusting bond that develops between Direct Support Professionals and the individuals that they are working to support,” said Deborah M. Spitalnik, Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Executive Director of The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers University. “Dedicated, trained staff members make a vital difference in the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and for their families.”
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