Frontline Initiative: Direct Support Professionals Supporting People's Employment

DirectCourse Connect

This issue of Frontline Initiative 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

Working is an important aspect of life for many adults. Direct support professionals (DSPs) can play an essential role in supporting people with disabilities who work, are looking for a job, or want to learn new skills. You might support people with self-discovery or finding a job. Some people may need assistance during their workday. The College of Direct Support (CDS) is part of DirectCourse. CDS content can help DSPs to learn effective ways to support people with employment. It can be a part of helping people achieve their personal dreams and goals. Below is just a small sample of CDS lessons that could be useful to DSPs in these roles.

Employment Supports for People with Disabilities: Identifying Individual Employment Preferences, Interests, Strengths, and Support Needs

DSPs who know the likes and interests of people they support are better equipped to help them when they want to work. This lesson teaches DSPs how a person’s strengths and challenges may affect the support they need at work. This lesson could help learners earn the NADSP E-Badge for Individual Activities.

Employment Supports for People with Disabilities: Job Opportunities and Job Searching

There are tools DSPs can use to better support people with finding and keeping jobs. This lesson shares how to support people in these processes. This lesson could help learners earn the NADSP E-Badge for Individual Activities.

Supporting Jobs and Careers in the Community: Successful Community Employment and Retention

Job retention is often a positive result of good planning. This lesson teaches DSPs how to support people to learn skills they may need to succeed on the job. This lesson could help learners earn the NADSP E-Badge for Community Networking.

Person-Centered Planning: Bringing Person-Centered Plans to Life

DSPs who focus on person-centered supports can help people succeed at their jobs, as well as in other areas of their lives. This lesson teaches DSPs how to help in ways that make the most sense for the person supported. This lesson could help learners earn the NADSP E-Badge for Person-Centered Thinking.


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.