Frontline Initiative DSP Recognition

Moving Mountains:
NADSP Recognizes Best Practices


Jeanne Desjardins is on the NADSP Board of Directors and is a member of the Communications Subcommittee.

In a field experiencing budget cuts and struggling to retain quality staff, there are a number of organizations that, despite the challenges, push the envelope of direct support. Against many odds, these agencies and initiatives improve the field by creating solutions to the issues in direct support.

NADSP honors these agencies and organizations that use best practices and innovative strategies to promote the direct support workforce. These leaders in the field are presented with the NADSP Moving Mountains award, which recognizes organizations that embrace NADSP’s guiding principles and promote the NADSP Code of Ethics. The NADSP guiding principles are:

  1. Enhancing the status of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs),
  2. Providing educational and career opportunities for DSPs,
  3. Strengthening partnerships between DSPs, self-advocates, and other consumer groups,
  4. Promoting systems reform in Direct Support, and
  5. Supporting a credentialing process.

Moving Mountains award recipients have taken the lead in improving the competence, status, compensation, and stability of the direct support workforce. They have shown that they value input from DSPs, self-advocates, and family members in developing their programs and initiatives. These organizations recognize their DSPs as valuable assets. NADSP, in turn, recognizes these organizations by awarding Moving Mountains.

The Moving Mountains award, which is presented every year at the Reinventing Quality Conference, is supported by a partnership between NADSP and the Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota.

Congratulations to the 2007 Moving Mountains award recipients: Support Providing Employees Association of Kentucky (SPEAK) and the Alaska Alliance for Direct Support Careers (AADSC)!

SPEAK was recognized for its pre-service orientation of DSPs, mentoring of new hires, in-service training, and promoting direct support recognition and professionalism. Currently, 220 DSP applicants have completed the pre-service orientation and 43 DSPs have become mentors. Turnover in partnering organizations has dropped from 62% to 27% in three years. For more information about SPEAK, please visit

AADSC began in 2000 as an effort to create and retain a more competent direct support workforce. The state alliance has several goals. These include improving the status and public image of DSPs, expanding the DSP recruitment pool, developing effective retention strategies, and achieving a living wage and benefits for DSPs. AADSC has creatively pursued these goals by creating a statewide media campaign showing people who receive support and their DSPs in a positive light. Their Web site posts job openings, upcoming events, and other opportunities for DSPs.

The 2008 Reinventing Quality conference will be held in Baltimore, August 13-15. Who will receive the Moving Mountains awards this year?

To learn more about applying for the Moving Mountains award, visit the NADSP Web site at training. Applications for the 2009 Moving Mountains award will be posted this summer.