Frontline Initiative Supporting Families

In Action:
Community Support Skills Standards

I am a Direct Support Professional (DSP) who provides supports to three individuals in their homes. I divide my time between these three families and individuals for whom I provide support and find joy in their unique qualities and challenges. Because I work with three distinctly different families, I have had the opportunity to develop my communication skills and the set up expectations for working with families in a variety of ways. These skills have been developed through trial and error! It takes time and even some mistakes along the way to develop meaningful working relationships with families.

It has been important for me to understand both the family as a whole and each family member individually. I’ll share a story that helped me grow as a DSP. While I was working at one home, the brother of Callie, the girl I was supporting, seemed to be having a hard time with all the attention Callie got from her parents and from DSPs like me. Josh, seven at the time, would often hide his sister’s toys or hide my shoes when it was time for me to go home. It was easy for me to get annoyed at Josh’s behavior and think about how he was getting in the way of the supports I was providing to Callie. After reflecting a bit I realized the Josh just wanted some attention from me and from his parents. I thought about how to provide the best supports possible to Callie while providing some sort of attention to Josh. I talked with the family and we tried a bunch of different things, but what finally worked was asking Josh to help me provide supports to Callie when he wanted to. Josh was able to work with Callie and me on her speech program or just play with Callie. Josh was able to see the outcome of his involvement as Callie would make progress in her speech program and laugh when they were playing. By asking Josh to become more active in Callie’s life, Callie and Josh both benefited by growing in their relationship. As a DSP I benefited too, because it became easier to provide supports to Callie. My working partnership with the family was strengthened because Callie’s mom, dad, and Josh were all part of the solution. Along the way we built trust, respect, and clearer communication skills.

Community Supports Skill Standards

Competency Area 6: Community Living Skills and Supports

The community-based support practitioner has the ability to match the specific supports and interventions to the unique needs of individual participants and recognizes the importance of friends, family, and community relationships.