Steve Robinson

In early April, Warren resident Steven Robinson was named Vermont’s 2024 Direct Support Professional of the Year by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) – a policy and advocacy organization.





Robinson has worked as a support professional for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) for over 30 years. He is based within the Vermont Crisis Intervention Network (VCIN), a program of Upper Valley Services. For the ANCOR award, he was chosen from among 350 nominees.

Robinson studied resort management in college and worked at ski resorts in Vermont and New Hampshire after graduating. At that time, his sister, who worked for a small mental health agency in Waterbury, asked if he would be interested in doing respite care – providing breaks to shared living providers. In Vermont, a high percentage of adults with IDD live in the homes of individuals and families – a ‘shared living’ model.


His first job involved spending time with a nonverbal individual who had a diagnosis of autism. “I was young, and needed the work, so I tried it,” Robinson said. “And it was interesting.” For a few years, he continued the respite work in the evenings after ending his workday at VonTrapps in Stowe. “I slowly got pulled into human services, with my foot in the door, doing that work. I realized I kind of liked it,” he said.

Robinson spent the following few years doing daytime respite work for a small agency in Barre, helping individuals with their day-to-day tasks and jobs, then joined VCIN doing crisis intervention work – a job he’s enjoyed for decades.

VCIN, an organization with 17 employees, provides trainings and individual consultations for people who receive developmental services from the state. They also run several crisis residences across the state – places where adults with IDD who have lost their home placements can stay, usually for a period of weeks while the VCIN team sources a new home placement for them. Robinson is based in one of these residencies.





He said that while most adult clients with IDD are in need of new housing placements, others need to be connected to additional services like counseling or job placement. Connecting them to new activities that bring them joy is also part of the job, as is making them feel safe overall. He said he’s learned a lot about creating a sense of safety through the job, but “I’ve always kind of done that a little bit, in school and other situations. I’m not trained in de-escalating anything. I just try and be there, and listen, and provide a safe place for them.”

VCIN was founded in 1991 by Patrick Frawley, PhD, and Al Vecchione, PhD. At the time, the state was housing adults with IDD in a facility in Brandon called the Brandon Training School, founded in 1915. That facility was closed in 1993, having housed over 2,300 adults with IDD in its nearly 80 years of operation. The goal was to transition adults housed at the larger facility to individual home settings out in Vermont communities, compensating home providers. VCIN’s work, which had already started, became even more vital.  


Aside from Robinson’s day job with VCIN, he and his wife opened their home to several adults with IDD – one who has stayed with them for 32 years and another going on 10 years. Early on, they housed a woman who was transitioning from The Brandon School when it closed and she stayed with the Robinsons for seven years.

“It’s a hard sell for some people,” Robinson said about the concept of becoming a 24-hour home provider. “I remember thinking, I didn’t want to do it, but once we started doing it, it became a great life for us – for my family.”

For adults with IDD who find placements in individual homes, “the potential for transformation for the individual is just indescribable,” Frawley said.

“I don’t know what the recipe for success is,” Robinson added. “Sometimes people try it for a year and think they can’t do it. They give up too early, but it can get really good. The relationships just get stronger.”