Frontline Initiative Social Capital
Building professional relationships
We’re still in the first half of the year and 2014 promises to be our busiest and most productive since we’ve been incorporated. The theme of this edition of the Frontline Initiative is about social capital and the important role that DSPs have in helping people with disabilities build meaningful relationships in their communities.
NADSP is also about building social capital for the DSP workforce, which for decades has been seen as just an entry level position that pays low wages. Well, we are now seeing how this attitude is changing across the country as states and policy makers are beginning to recognize DSPs as a lynchpin to building quality lives for people with disabilities. There is also a growing discussion that the direct support job requires more than just “loving the guys” (a term we hear far too often). It requires learning the latest through sound training curricula, building skills, and understanding the values of the profession. Great things happen when we embrace these things at the point of interaction.
During this year, we will be working closely with two states, North Carolina and Oregon, that have committed to building a state chapter. Building a viable chapter isn’t easy, it requires the buy-in and leadership from key stakeholder groups that can assist DSPs to find their advocacy voices and recognize their value. When NADSP helps DSPs to build chapters, we rely on their relationships with DD councils, state disability offices, self-advocacy associations, families and provider networks to affect change. As a matter of fact, in both North Carolina and Oregon, we are working directly with established organizations like the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities and the provider associations, Benchmarks in North Carolina and the Oregon Rehabilitation Association. Simply put, without their help, we would not be successful.
NADSP is also about building social capital for the DSP workforce, which for decades has been seen as just an entry level position that pays low wages. Well, we are now seeing how this attitude is changing across the country
Continuing with our theme, I’m also really pleased to let you know that NADSP worked with the American Network of Community Options & Resources (ANCOR) this May in Miami, Florida, when they hosted the “Direct Support Professional Leadership Academy”. We assisted them in reviewing and scoring hundreds of applications for their National Direct Support Professional of the Year Award and we be provided three highly interactive sessions for their participants on the Code of Ethics, NADSP Competencies and a focus group about the work.
Because of our strong relationship with the University of Minnesota’s Research & Training Center and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), we were asked to help create a strand of workshop sessions at the Reinventing Quality Conference in Baltimore this August. We will also be handing out our Moving Mountains Award for 2013 and 2014 at that conference.
Last but not least, AAIDD 2014 will be June 23-26th in Orlando, Florida. We are excited to be a part, not only, of 2014, but also of the 2015 conference. We’ll be joining AAIDD in Louisville, Kentucky in June, 2015, as we host our first national DSP conference before the annual AAIDD conference kicks off. We’re in the planning stages now, but we will be sending you a lot more information about speakers at this historic occasion and hope to have a few surprises too. One thing we can guarantee, while we will be celebrating DSPs at the conference, we want to invite anyone who is interested in direct support workforce issues! The important thing to remember, none of these things would have been possible without building sound, mutually beneficial relationships — something that DSPs do every day.