Frontline Initiative Code of Ethics

Frontline Notes

Welcome to our Frontline Initiative on the Code of Ethics. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) often experience ethically complicated situations, and they frequently find themselves under intense scrutiny from supervisors, family members and regulators. The public has recently read many accounts of DSPs behaving unethically in their profession and, most importantly and sadly, to people they support. The reality, however, is that most DSPs perform ethically as they grow and foster relationships with the people they support. 

Since 2001, the NADSP Code of Ethics has been a living, breathing, and dynamic resource to help DSPs in their daily decision-making activities. DSP Lori Raymond and Program Coordinator Bethany Toledo (on behalf of DSP Belinda Sowers) offer inside perspectives of how the Code of Ethics has been a significant tool in their everyday work. Self-advocate Carrie Varner also shares her important perspective on what the Code of Ethics means to her. 

Because being an ethical DSP requires effective decision-making skills, this issue includes several articles that can be used to facilitate discussion at a staff meeting or among coworkers. In an overview of the RIGHT Decision Method, Annie Johnson Sirek discusses a useful framework for solving ethical dilemmas. Ruth Luckasson offers an important distinction between personal and professional ethics, and NYSACRA President Tom Harmon explores how the principles within the Code of Ethics can be used when DSPs find themselves in situations for which they may not feel well trained. 

As an organization, NADSP has taken action in encouraging DSPs to do the right thing, all of the time, and Lisa Burck, president of NADSP, describes a new initiative to recognize excellence in DSP work. In addition, Richard Cohen, Executive Director of the Disabilities Rights Center of New Hampshire, shares some important history in regards to some of the policy initiatives as related to the Code of Ethics and the disability rights movement. 

We hope you will enjoy this issue as you learn more about applying the NADSP Code of Ethics in your work as a DSP.