Johnson County Developmental Supports’ Angela Austin and Robert Frampus Frye receive national awards for Direct Support Professionals

Photo of JCDS DSPs Angela Austin and Robert Frampus Fry

Johnson County Developmental Supports direct support professionals Angela Austin and Robert Frampus Frye received national recognition for their work with Johnson County residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The American Network of Community Options and Resources announced that Angela Austin, a DSP at JCDS, is the recipient of the 2023 Kansas DSP of the Year award. Austin joins 53 other recipients of ANCOR’s 2023 DSP of the Year awards, chosen from a record-breaking pool of more than 350 outstanding nominees.

Since 2007, ANCOR’s annual DSP of the Year awards recognize outstanding DSPs who deliver long-term services and supports to people with IDD. The awards celebrate the important role DSPs play in ensuring people with IDD have what they need to thrive and be included in the community.

Robert Frampus Frye, a DSP with JCDS, was named the Allene M. Jackson Award winner by the Association on Aging with Developmental Disabilities. The Allene M. Jackson Award originated in 2003 and was named after AADD's founding Executive Director, Allene M. Jackson, who led the agency from 1989 to 1995. This award is given to a direct care staff who has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their work with a person or persons who are at least 50 years of age and have a developmental disability. 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of this award.

“JCDS is overwhelmingly proud of Angela and Robert, for their award recognition, but more importantly for their dedication and commitment to true community inclusion for the people we support,” said Chad VonAhnen, JCDS executive director. “Angela and Robert clearly demonstrate the transformative power of community-based supports, and we’re so grateful that ANCOR and AADD have recognized these two exemplary DSPs with such high-profile honors.”

These awards also seek to raise awareness about a direct support workforce in crisis. Nationally, this essential workforce has experienced a decades-long severe shortage of DSPs, which was only amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and has accelerated into a crisis that threatens access to critically needed services.

JCDS is currently recruiting DSPs to join the award-winning team. DSPs play a crucial role in supporting people with IDD to live, work, and play in their community. DSPs help people do everyday activities like cooking, shopping, self-care, leisure activities, transportation, employment, and more.

With a recent pay increase approved by the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, new DSPs receive a starting wage of $19.61 per hour while experienced DSPs receive a starting wage of $21.50 per hour. Those that are new to the field can receive all necessary training on the job. More information about open positions at JCDS can be found at

Barbara Merrill, chief executive officer for ANCOR, added, “For 17 years now, ANCOR has presented the Direct Support Professional of the Year Awards to recognize the outstanding professionals who power community inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The outstanding DSPs being honored this year deliver life-enhancing supports amid no shortage of significant challenges, not the least of which is a long-standing crisis in the ability of providers to recruit and retain qualified DSPs. Through it all, these professionals demonstrate an unwavering commitment to community inclusion and to the people they support. That’s why we feel honored to celebrate Angela Austin and other DSPs who exemplify excellence in our field.”

The 2023 DSP of the Year awards were presented in a ceremony at ANCOR’s 2023 Annual Conference in Chicago while the 2023 Allene M. Jackson Award was presented at the AADD annual conference in St. Charles, MO.

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