Frontline Initiative Credentialing

Adding Something New with Ad Astra in Kansas


Priscilla Walker

Seressa McCracken

In October 2002, the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities brought together a group of Kansas stakeholders to create statewide systemic change in direct support workforce development. One of the outcomes of this project was the Ad Astra Direct Support Apprenticeship Program. Ad Astra is an educational and job training program. Credentialing and apprenticeship can improve employee skills by offering new opportunities for recognition and career growth. Apprenticeship is a time-honored method of helping initiate employees into developing skills while on the job. The Standards of Apprenticeship for DSPs were registered by the Kansas Apprenticeship Council.

The following features Kansas DSPs who have completed credentialing programs. They reflect on what drew them to the credentialing programs and how their work has changed as a result.

Pricilla Walker

Pricilla Walker is a DSP at Individual Support Systems and completed the Ad Astra credentialing program. She believes the credentialing program has improved her overall performance and made her more of a leader among her co-workers. She can now express to the person she supports that she better understands how he communicates. She also sees that the program has helped her find opportunities for the person she supports to be out and about in the community every day. Pricilla is as dependable and faithful to the job as ever but she feels the program has made her a better DSP and coworker.

She believes it is important to participate in a credentialing program to gain knowledge, as well as an understanding of the history of services for people with developmental disabilities and how supports might look in the future. She also cites the certificate and a salary increase as additional incentives for participating in the Ad Astra program.

Pricilla Walker is a DSP at Individual Support Systems, Inc.

Seressa McCracken

Seressa McCracken is a Program Coordinator for Individual Support Systems in Topeka, Kansas. She completed the Ad Astra Direct Support Certificate Program in October 2004 and will go through the Advanced Proficiency in Direct Support Program later this year. As a result of the credentialing program, Seressa has become a supervisor and taken on more responsibility and leadership roles. She feels she now has more knowledge to provide better supports.

Seressa shared, “My own belief system has always been to treat people with dignity and respect. Now I am more open about the possibilities in helping the individuals be more independent and making choices for themselves instead of feeling like I have to do everything for them.” In terms of incentives for completing the credentialing program, Seressa cites a promotion and being more confident in her abilities and skills in performing her new job. The program has helped Seressa better understand her responsibilities as a DSP and Program Coordinator. 

Seressa McCracken, Program Coordinator at Individual Support Systems in Topeka, Kansas.