Frontline Initiative Documentation

Alliance Update

Greetings from your friends at the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals.

Much of the “buzz” in our recent meetings and conversations has been about choosing policy and organizational directions for the future. After meetings in Chicago last May and Minneapolis in July, members are focused on several key initiatives for the coming months.

A top priority is moving from our informal coalition structure to a fully incorporated non-profit entity. Our volunteer members have been busy with the task of creating and reviewing the mission, procedures, and by-laws that are essential to making this change. It will be an exciting new phase for NADSP and we expect it will help us to make an even greater contribution to the direct support workforce. Big kudos to John Rose of the Irwin Siegel Agency for the thankless task of “herding the NADSP cats” toward achieving this organizational goal.

We’ve had much positive feedback and requests for the NADSP Code of Ethics (see the following page to order). With that interest we’ve also seen a rising demand for technical assistance in applying this code in the everyday life and work of agencies and the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) they employ. In response, the NADSP members have identified the development of a Code of Ethics tool kit as a key action goal in the coming year.

Another primary policy goal is to make sure that our recently published Moving Mountains workforce covenant is widely distributed to employers and that we begin to publicly recognize those employers who have committed to the workforce support principles it describes.

On the national front the NADSP is witnessing a significant rise in awareness and commitment to improving work conditions for DSPs. Several state Developmental Disabilities Councils, including Ohio, Kansas, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Arkansas, have made important investments in projects supporting the creation and demonstrating interventions that will have a positive impact on DSPs. The United States Department of Labor has issued apprenticeship guidelines for the “direct support” role and has extended an increasing amount of in-kind and fiscal resources to “jump start” apprenticeship programs throughout the country. For example, they sponsored a New England Regional Conference on Direct Support Apprenticeship that took place last summer, provided a grant of $100,000 to the Ohio Alliance for Direct Support Professionals to promote apprenticeship activities, and provided advice and technical assistance to coalitions in Massachusetts, Kansas, Ohio, and Wyoming on how employers create and register an apprenticeship development program.

Policy leaders in other organizations are also working to make a difference. Several national human service associations (ANCOR, Arc, AAMR, AUCE, and NADSP) have formed a coalition to speak in one voice on important policy matters. This group, known as the DDQC (Developmental Disabilities Qualities Consortium) facilitated the development of an important conference in February sponsored by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities where direct support was a key theme. The DDQC is also planning a joint summit in 2005. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also funding research and demonstration activities focused on direct support. While that funding is still too limited for the extent of the current problems, it is a step in the right direction. Finally, NADSP serves as the advisory panel to several important research efforts involving direct support. As time goes by, more people are joining NADSP on the exciting but difficult journey to better conditions for the direct support workforce in America. We hope you will too.