NADSP update

Frontline Initiative: Self-Care for DSPs

NADSP Update


Joseph M. Macbeth is the executive director of NADSP. He can be reached at

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to our first Frontline Initiative of 2019! This issue is dedicated to making sure that Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are supported, healthy, and mindful of their own well-being, and aware of how these things impact their work. It is a critically important topic. I’m thankful that the Editorial Board and our guest authors made this a priority this year. What a busy year it has been so far for National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).

In addition to our annual conference, twice-monthly webinars, on-site training seminars, advancing membership benefits, and advocating for better workforce policy, you might have seen that we recently launched our brand-new E-Badge Academy. After two years of research, design and testing, we have created a contemporary, accessible and practical way of recognizing direct support knowledge, skills, and values via electronic badges. Many industries and educational institutions are now embracing “badging” as an indicator of accomplishment or skill. Badges can be displayed, accessed, and verified online. These badges can be earned in a wide variety of environments, an increasing number of which, like the E-Badge Academy, are available online. Given our industry’s well-documented workforce “crisis” and the lack of innovation to address it, I truly believe digital badging is the future of direct support skill recognition. I believe it is potentially one solution to stabilizing the workforce and securing policy support to finally build and fund a career ladder. This is something we’ve been trying to do for more than a decade.

The use of badges recognizes and celebrates this progress that may otherwise go unacknowledged. E-Badges are earned through a customized online learning management system. DSPs submit specific examples, experience, and education that displays their achievements and contributions to their profession. E-Badge Academy learners upload evidence of their accomplishments for objective review by the NADSP, and then share the resulting E-Badges with others.

The purpose of the E-Badge Academy is to provide national recognition for the contributions and competence of those who apply for and meet the certification standards. The NADSP E-Badge Academy offers powerful benefits to practitioners, their employers, and the people they support. DSPs benefit by learning and applying best practices and evidence-based skill and knowledge in the workplace. The organizations employing credentialed DSPs can provide stronger assurances of quality to funders and can proudly market their employment of nationally certified and highly skilled DSPs. Finally, evidence from agencies participating in some form of DSP credentialing process currently suggests that employees who complete rigorous certification programs stay on the job longer and provide a higher quality of support. The NADSP E-Badge Academy affords DSPs the opportunity to commit to the profession of direct support through its three-tiered credential program.

All of us at NADSP hope that you’ll take some time for yourselves, reflect on your work, and feel satisfied with knowing how much you do for so many people on a daily basis. We also hope you share this wonderful resource with your co-workers, agency administrators, the people you support and their families. Please remember, in order to support others well, the DSP must also be supported well. You can’t pour from an empty cup!


  • NADSP accredited education curricula for DSPs
  • NADSP member organizations : Member organizations who employ DSPs can support them by joining NADSP’s membership, which offers access to much of NADSP materials, archived webinars, news flashes, policy initiatives and other important information geared toward Direct Support Professionals and Frontline Supervisors. It’s important for professionals to be engaged with their professional membership organization.
  • NADSP industry partners: National organizations who have a history of supporting our mission, values and promote our guiding principles that DSPs require a large scale advancement of the knowledge, skills and values of the direct support workforce.
  • NADSP membership form