NADSP update

Frontline Initiative: Supporting Healthy Relationships

NADSP update


Joseph M. Macbeth is the NADSP chief executive officer and president. He can be reached at

We are so pleased to share this issue of Frontline Initiative with you and we hope that you and those you support are faring well despite these very challenging times. Anyone who’s ever provided direct support would agree that building professional relationships is critically important in doing your job. Sadly, Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are living this on a daily basis while “social distancing.” I have said many times that direct support is about relationships, and that’s the focus of this issue of Frontline Initiative. We hope you enjoy it, learn from it, and share it. We also hope you use some of the ideas in your daily practice, especially now during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

There is a constant barrage of information being shared about COVID-19 and things are changing almost hourly across the country. NADSP is committed to sharing resources for DSPs to help them cope with the uncertainty. We understand that during this global crisis, DSPs are still working to provide quality supports and building professional relationships. As DSPs are on the front lines, we have created this COVID-19 Toolkit for DSPs  with a lot of self-care information and additional resources for the people you support. Please use it! 

Below is one of the webinars in the toolkit, Self Care for DSPs in a Crisis with John Raffaele.

We also know that provider organizations that employ DSPs are also being significantly challenged by the pandemic. We recognize that organizations were already enduring a significant workforce shortage before this crisis. With the influx of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, those shortages are sure to remain a critical a issue for providers nationwide. At NADSP, we recognize quality doesn’t happen by chance. We want to make sure we are doing our part to offer employers some of our materials to support them as they work to bring in new staff during and after the COVID-19 pandemic so we also created the toolkit, On-boarding New Direct Support Professionals During the COVID-19 Crisis to help safely and efficently onboard new direct support professionals. 

These are unprecedented times and they will surely test the strength of our direct support workforce. As with other crises, they will be challenged, and once again they will rise to this challenge and emerge stronger and more respected for their collective skills, devotion, and character. When the pandemic passes, NADSP will asking you to share your experiences. We need you to advocate for policy change at state and federal levels to improve practices, promote systems reform, and secure livable wage for all DSPs.  Wages and policy should reflect your essential role and life sustaining work you do everyday and during the COVID-19 crisis.  

Along with covering the COVID-19 pandemic, the NADSP conducts dozens of webinars throughout the year about a wide variety of topics unrelated to this crisis. We’re also celebrating the one-year anniversary of our E-Badge Academy . In January 2019, we launched a digital certification program. It offers DSPs the ability to earn electronic badges as a way to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and values on the job. One year later, thousands of DSPs across the country have earned e-badges in the NADSP E-Badge Academy. The e-badges are a visual representation of their accomplishments. They are demonstrating that they have an up-to-date and relevant skill set. They are highlighting their professional achievements. They are documenting the value that they bring to their employer and the people they support. E-Badges are grouped together to achieve the NADSP’s DSP-I, DSP-II and DSP-III certifications. These offer a clear career path that could change the course of this profession.  

Lastly, toward the end of 2019, we welcomed three new board members and said goodbye to one. Chester Finn, who works at the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities as a Special Advisor to the Commissioner, joined our board. Also joining is Chet Tschetter, Education Specialist at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota. We also welcomed Katherine Dunbar, Vice President for Accreditation at The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL). We are pleased to bring on these three extraordinary professionals; they have a variety of areas of expertise to guide the NADSP’s strategic mission. We’d also like to thank our outgoing board secretary, Janet Wilson, DSP-II. Janet is leaving due to the expiration of her two full terms on our board. She will continue work with us on advancing the E-Badge Academy. 

Please be healthy, safe and supportive of each other during these difficult times and continue to build those important relationships with those you support 

With my deepest respect, 

Joe Macbeth 

President and Chief Executive Officer