Frontline Initiative DSP Recognition

Miami Cerebral Palsy Celebrates and Promotes DSPs


Elizabeth Das is the Staff Development Coordinator at Miami Cerebral Palsy Residential Services, Inc.

Miami Cerebral Palsy Residential Services, Inc. (MCPRS) has always prided itself on being a leader in the field of services to people with disabilities. This has never been more apparent than in how we embraced and espoused the mission and ideals of the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). Our leadership adopted the NADSP as the necessary vehicle for our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to develop professionally.

Here in Miami we have the good fortune of being part of a multi-cultural community. Our DSPs come from varied backgrounds. Many are new to this country and have found the field of disabilities to be a good match for their talents and caring attitudes. With this good fortune, however, come the obstacles that language and cultural barriers can pose to professional development strategies. MCPRS recognizes the need of every individual to develop professionally and economically. It saw in the NADSP credentialing program a means of providing this to staff.

In May of 2004 MCPRS began working toward the NADSP’s mission and goals of standardized national benchmarks. At that time, we adopted the NADSP Code of Ethics and began educating our DSPs on the Code. We held numerous training sessions on the Code and gave Code of Ethics cards to all employees. We also incorporated the process into our pre-service orientation sessions. Each DSP, including every newly-hired DSP, signs and commits to the Code of Ethics.

MCPRS saw the NADSP credentialing program as the next logical step of working toward our goal of supporting staff by professionalizing the position and reinforcing national recognition of their work. We recognized the need for further education for DSPs and the benefit this would have to the individuals being supported. We chose to use the College of Direct Support as our training tool. We introduced the College of Front Line Supervision to staff in 2005 and added the College of Direct Support in 2006. We also brought in a consultant to provide seminars to DSPs about the registration process.

We are proud to have 86 registered DSPs. We believe we are the first agency in the nation to require its entire work force to become Registered Direct Support Professionals through the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. Approximately 40 more are in the process of obtaining Registration; and in the coming months, 30 more will work toward Registration. We consider this the first step of a three-part series in the credentialing and certification standards of our employees.

“We are proud of our agency’s commitment and the interest, efforts, and commitment made by our direct support staff,” says Marta Morin, our Executive Director. “Miami Cerebral Palsy/United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida is committed to investing in staff and in their career as DSPs. We want to ensure staff brings a full set of ethical skills standards to the job of DSP by providing formal training – utilizing the College of Direct Support as one of its educational vehicles for educating and supporting staff.”

We look forward to this process with energy and enthusiasm.