Frontline Initiative Credentialing

Frontline Notes

The world is changing for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), and nowhere is that more evident than the national activity around educational opportunities and the interest in creating a set of measurable credentials for DSPs. Many of the articles in this issue highlight efforts of states, regional coalitions, and individual agencies to create systems for providing DSPs with a clear understanding of what the important skills, attitudes, knowledge, and ethical standards of DSP work are, as well as for providing ways to support them in gaining these important skills.

The National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) has been active in assisting these and other exciting measures related to credentialing of DSPs and will continue to do so, but it’s important to note that while these initiatives show a promising start, not all of them are in line with the full set of criteria the NADSP proposes for credentialing.

The NADSP firmly believes that to be successful and meaningful, a DSP credential should be voluntary in nature, based on mastery of nationally validated “best practice” competencies and ethics which are rigorously assessed both in the classroom and on the job (OJT). In addition, a credentialing process should be affordable to DSPs, developed and regularly reviewed by a full group of stakeholders (families, consumers, DSP, agencies, governments, educational partners, etc.), include a consumer or family satisfaction component, and would need to be renewed regularly so that DSPs can keep abreast of changes in the field.

In sum, the vision of the NADSP is to create a goal toward which DSPs can aspire rather than creating a minimum standard which they should meet to be employed. If all these criteria are met, there should be consensus on the meaning of the credential and thus it should be highly transportable.

For more details on the NADSP position on credentialing of DSPs, turn to the Alliance Update on page 5 or visit the DSP Web site at To help you better understand how each of the initiatives in these articles fare in comparison to the NADSP model for credentialing, we have included the chart similar to the one below with each article. There will be a check under the appropriate box to give you a quick snapshot of each component and where it falls.