Frontline Initiative

The Alliance States Goals for DSP Credentialing

The Alliance has identified as one of its goals to support developing and implementing a national voluntary credentialing process for direct support professionals. A work group of Alliance members has developed a position statement and definitions regarding a national voluntary credentialing process. This position statement will be reviewed and discussed by the full Alliance membership at our spring meeting. We are also very interested in your ideas and feedback regarding the position statement and definitions identified below.

National Voluntary Credentialing Process 

The Alliance supports the development of a nationally recognized, voluntary credentialing process for DSPs. The credential is received and held by direct support professionals and the process for obtaining it would be voluntary and coordinated at the agency, local, state or regional level after receiving endorsement from the Alliance (a national collaborative body consisting of representatives from key national industry organizations and human service educators). The Alliance is committed to creating access to this credential for DSPs by promoting opportunities to create a credentialing process at agency or local, regional, and state levels. Upon request, endorsement of a nationally recognized credentialing process will be given to agencies, local collaboratives, states, or regions based upon strong evidence that the applicant has developed and will implement and coordinate a credentialing process that includes the following specified components of the national credential for direct support professionals: 1) promotes consumer and family choice and satisfaction as in integral component of direct service; 2) delivers training ⁄ education based on specific knowledge ⁄skill sets; 3) includes an assessment process which measures knowledge ⁄skill competencies; 4) is guided and monitored by a local partnership of stakeholders which must include, but is not limited to, people with disabilities or their families and direct support professionals; and 5) includes work-based learning and competency demonstration components.

Definitions of Terms

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals endorses the following definitions regarding the development of a national voluntary credentialing process:

  • National. National in scope; endorsed by a national collaborative body within the industry but coordinated and monitored at the agency, local, state or regional level, and is transportable from one endorsed entity to another.
  • Voluntary. Cannot be forced or required of any person, agency, or state.
  • Credential. An industry award which recognizes that a direct support professional is excellent at what they do; that they have knowledge, skills, and experience above and beyond the typical entry-level worker and have achieved mastery of specific knowledge and skill sets. (The term credential was chosen over certificate because the latter often restricts entry into a profession or can exclude people from practice.)
  • Process. The steps an entity must go through and the components of a training ⁄ educational program an entity must prove in order to gain endorsement from the national body.
  • Direct support professional. The direct support professional assists individuals and their families in making choices; in leading self-directed, self-determined, and empowered lives; and in contributing to their communities. The DSP also encourages attitudes and behaviors that enhance the inclusion of individuals in communities.
  • Local entity. A local entity is a public or private organization or educational institution that is committed to direct support professional development and opportunity. A local entity could also be a collaborative of local industry stakeholders who share a commitment to DSP development and opportunity