Frontline Initiative Communication

Celebrating Our First Birthday!


Marianne Taylor is a Senior Research Associate for HRSI in Cambridge, Massachusetts and a member of the NADSP steering committee

Members of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) convened in November to mark our first birthday in Salt Lake City in conjunction with the National Arc conference. In contrast to the tranquil mountain setting of Salt Lake, Alliance Co-Chair, James Meadours of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, stirred excitement in a packed conference room on Saturday morning when he described the mission of the NADSP and shared personal stories illustrating the importance of support in his life. James and NADSP Steering Committee members, Marci Whiteman and Marianne Taylor, engaged conferees in a lively discussion about NADSP goals and concerns. Topics included access to educational opportunities, the disruption of relationships due to staff turnover, and questions on how the enhancement of professionalism in the direct support role might affect the ability to engage natural supports.

Earlier in the week, the NADSP Steering Committee held a meeting to review NADSP accomplishments since its June meeting and to make new plans. Although growing pains are inevitable, NADSP has much to celebrate and look forward to on this first anniversary, including:

A new look for the newsletter! Frontline Initiative, the NADSP newsletter, is going strong and has a new look thanks to input from DSPs across the country and its active editorial board. Kudos to Tom Beers, Lori Sedlezky, and Susan O’Nell for the fabulous job they are doing on this publication.

 The NADSP now has member teams organized around each of the five NADSP goals. These teams have convened via telephone conference to develop action plans on each goal. Teams have developed a new NADSP fact sheet and other introductory materials to spread the word about the Alliance. Also in the works is a position statement on “Education and Training,” ideas for a “National Scholarship Act” for DSPs and a framework for a national credential program.

The NADSP will serve as the National Advisors for an exciting new project awarded by the US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Pathways is a 3-year project that will assist the NADSP in its work to design a national credential process and will help determine the links between education and training to competence on the job. Marianne Taylor of Human Services Research Institute and NADSP Co-Chair, Amy Hewitt of the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, will direct the Pathways project.

The NADSP will be working with Rick Berkobien of the National Arc to develop a fact sheet about Direct Support Professionals that the Arc will disseminate, nationally. This is a great opportunity for NADSP to help increase awareness of important work force characteristics and challenges.

NADSP members would like to thank all of the organizations who sponsored the Fall meeting including: The President’s Committee on Mental Retardation, the National Organization of Human Service Educators, Reaching Up Inc., the Pathways Project and the National Arc.