Frontline Initiative Credentialing

Many DSPs Without Formal Credentials Provide Quality Support


Jeanne Desjardins is a DSP in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maine, which is located in a small, potato-farming community. The degree was not in special education, and yet I have supported individuals with disabilities for 25 years.

After I graduated from college, an acquaintance suggested that I might be interested in working in an institutional therapeutic aquatic setting. As supervisor of the therapeutic pool program, I implemented water exercise classes, swimming instruction, one-on-one therapy, and open recreation swims for people with severe developmental disabilities.

Working with individuals with various strengths, skills, and challenges provides me with the opportunity to explore uncharted territory in my “day-to-day” assignments. It presents clarity about how this “world goes ’round” and about the direct support workers who choose to make it a better place to live, work, and play – even without the formal credentials of a Direct Support Professional (DSP). I have had no other career convey this to me so beautifully.

I constantly evaluate my service so I consistently provide quality instruction and support as an exemplary role model to the individuals I support and the community in which they live. What an opportunity it has been to be a part of the progressive movement toward supporting the enhancement of the lives of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in the community! Today, we DSPs can direct our energies in positive, proactive, and supportive ways. I have been given the opportunity to create, revolutionize, transform, and reorganize the support I provide in order to promote higher quality services to individuals with different abilities. DSPs are an integral part of the movement to help individuals with disabilities become included in our community and be valued as members just like the rest of us. I am proud to be a part of making their dreams come true.