Frontline Initiative Direct Support Professionals

Direct Support Education Programs:
Increasing Skills, Knowledge, and Leadership

Is it important for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to continue their education? Yes! It is important for all DSPs to continue to improve their skills and continue their education.

How can you increase your skills as a DSP and be recognized for your knowledge and experience? Here are a few educational opportunities for DSPs to explore.

Opportunities at the University of Minnesota

Certificate in Disability Policy and Services

The certificate is designed to allow graduate and undergraduate students, as well as DSPs, to study policies and services that affect the lives of children, youth, and adults with disabilities. The certificate is a 12-credit program that studies education, health, and social services available to individuals with disabilities and their families. Also, the certificate examines the public and private networks of disability services from an interdisciplinary perspective. While the program addresses the needs of people with all types of disabilities, it emphasizes developmental disabilities across the lifespan.

The Certificate in Disability Policy and Services is a collaborative effort of the Department of Educational Policy and Administration and Institute on Community Integration in the College of Education and Human Development.

Online Courses for Credit

There are two courses offered online that have been developed specifically for DSPs and Frontline Supervisors —

  • EDHD 3301: Supporting Persons with Developmental and Related Disabilities in Community Human Services.
  • EDHD 4301: Personnel Supervision and Management in Community Human Services teaches students effective recruitment, retention and training interventions.

Ohio PATHS Program

The Ohio PATHS Program (Professional Advancement through Training and education in Human Services) offers a voluntary credentialing program for DSPs. The program challenges DSPs to attend 60 hours of PATHS-designed classes, examine the NADSP Code of Ethics and apply it to their work, and complete a portfolio of the skills they have learned in specific competency areas. Additionally, DSPs study and complete credential requirements while working with a skill mentor.

Ad Astra Direct Support Apprenticeship and Credentialing Program

The Ad Astra Direct Support Apprenticeship Program is a voluntary employee-trainee development program with the mission of improving quality of life for people with support needs and DSPs. It creates a career path for DSPs linked to mastery of knowledge, skill, and ethical practice. The program, developed by a coalition of Kansas stakeholders, is built on the national Community Support Skill Standards. The fi rst three levels of Ad Astra require 216 hours of related instruction and 3000 hours of on-the-job work experience under the guidance of a skills mentor. The U.S. Department of Labor has approved this voluntary credentialing program. Apprenticeship links wage increases to completion of each level of training. Currently, Ad Astra is being piloted by two Kansas organizations.