Frontline Initiative

Supporting DSPs Through Training


 Kathleen Olson is director of Outreach Training for the Kansas University Affiliated Program at Parsons, Kansas

Everything is more positive. I think of what the people I support can do, not what they can’t.

I try harder to respect – and to advocate for – the rights of people with disabilities.

These are just a few comments from direct support professionals after completing An Introduction to Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), a training curriculum developed by the Kansas University Affiliated Program (KUAP). Since 1993, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has required all community organizations that support people with developmental disabilities to provide AIDD training. This 116-hour curriculum focuses on the values and skills needed to provide person-centered services in community settings. Forty-six percent of Kansas DSPs have now completed training. AIDD has often been taught through the state’s community colleges, providing an introduction to post-secondary education for many DSPs. One of AIDD’s primary benefits is increased communication between DSPs, management, staff, and people receiving supports. DSPs report that the training has given them the confidence and knowledge to advocate for people they support.

 KUAP has also addressed the continuing learning needs of DSPs by channeling information about support strategies though a network of training coordinators, a library of training materials, and distance education methods. UAPs in sixteen states now have community service training initiatives.