Frontline Initiative: The Diverse Voices of Direct Support Professionals

Direct Course Connect

This issue of Frontline Initiative (FI) may have you wondering how to learn more about your work as a direct support professional (DSP). DirectCourse is a series of online training curricula focused on inclusion and community support. You may have access to two of these curricula that are very useful to DSPs and to those who aspire to be frontline supervisors (FLSs) and leaders. These are the College of Direct Support (CDS) and the College of Frontline Supervision, Management, and Leadership (CFSM). This content can provide you with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to provide high-quality direct support, develop your skills, and work effectively in your organization or community. CDS and CFSM content is accredited by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) . This content is built from the same competencies and code of ethics used by the NADSP. It can be used to help you learn what you need to know to create great e-badge examples that meet the criteria of the NADSP E-Badge Academy (see more below). You can use the DirectCourse: CDS/CFSM & NADSP E-Badge Crosswalk to quickly find which DirectCourse lessons align with each NADSP E-Badge and its related competency.

If you don’t already have access to DirectCourse, you can learn more, request a DirectCourse demonstration, or recommend it to your supervisor or training director. Below is a sample of content available that relates closely to the focus of this issue of Frontline Initiative.

The College of Direct Support

DSP voices represent a wide range of perspectives. You bring rich experiences from different social, economic, demographic, geographic, political, and other groups. Content in the College of Direct Support can support DSPs to learn about your own culture so you are better able to understand and reflect on other cultures. This can help you provide more culturally responsive supports.

Cultural Competence: What Is Cultural Competence?

DSPs who understand their own culture are better able to provide more culturally responsive supports. This lesson helps DSPs to reflect on their own cultural views. This lesson could help learners earn the NADSP E-Badge for Researcher.

Cultural Competence: Understanding Your Own Culture

Cultural awareness helps DSPs to be more culturally humble and responsive. This lesson helps DSPs understand how culture and background can affect beliefs and behavior. This lesson could help learners earn an NADSP E-Badge in the area of Cultural Learning.

Cultural Competence: Culturally Competent Communication

Cultural differences in communication are common. This can be true even when people speak the same language. This lesson will help DSPs learn to better manage cultural barriers to communication. This lesson could help learners earn the NADSP E-Badge for Respectful Communication.

Cultural Competence: Cultural Competence in Daily Support

Cultural competence is needed throughout the cycle of support services. This lesson will help DSPs explore more culturally responsive ways to adapt common methods of gathering information from people they support. This lesson could help learners earn the NADSP E-Badge for Cultural Support.


The NADSP E-Badge Academy was launched in 2019 as a way for DSPs to earn electronic badges by demonstrating knowledge, skills, and values that are characteristic of high-quality direct support professionals on the job. The E-Badge Academy is a way for the direct support workforce to demonstrate an up-to-date and relevant skill set, highlight their professional achievements, and document the value they bring to their employer and the people they support. The DSP badges are aligned directly with the CMS Core Competencies, but also cross-walked with the NADSP Competencies. Badges and a certificate for frontline supervisors (FLSs) of direct support professionals are also available. The FLS badges are aligned with the National Frontline Supervisor Competencies. Learners are enrolled in the E-Badge Academy by their employers, and they first earn The Code of Ethics Commitment badge as the foundation of their practice. Development of e-badges is ongoing, but those currently available are listed in the E-Badge Academy catalog . As mentioned above, CDS and CFSM contents provide a clear connection to NADSP E-Badges when there is one.