Frontline Initiative

Continuous Learning in Mississippi


Pamela Baker is director at the South Mississippi Regional Center in Long Beach, Mississippi

Competent, well-trained direct service workers and supervisors are essential to providing the best possible services to people with disabilities. As a regional service provider, the South Mississippi Regional Center (SMRC) offers individualized programs and supports to about six hundred citizens and families each year. One way the SMRC has sought to improve its services has been through a new writing curriculum especially for DSPs with supervisory duties, because they must have a sound working knowledge of policies and regulations and be skilled in written and verbal communication, management, and leadership.

With the provision of the Mississippi Workforce Education Act, the SMRC designed a technical writing module to sharpen basic reading and writing skills among DSPs at all levels of responsibility. In collaboration with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the SMRC constructed a technical writing course.

Direct service supervisors and program coordinators piloted and refined the preliminary module, and as development of the module continued, supervisory staff and project coordinators refined it onsite at SMRC. This collective effort produced an eight-hour class taught by instructors provided by the college. The training costs less than one hundred dollars per each training day for the entire class.

Since the module’s inception, staff have been enthusiastic and positive about the it as a part of their training and its value to their on-the-job success. The class is required for staff to be promoted among the direct support capacities, specifically for the direct care supervisory positions. Direct service staff and supervisors give the module high marks and praise the learning experience for its obvious value in improved communications at all levels of client services.