Frontline Initiative DSP Recognition

Recognizing the DSP:
The Key to Excellence


Mark Olson President National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals.

In an industry that focuses on recognizing the needs and desires of the people being supported, we often forget to recognize the needs and desires of those providing the support. NADSP is committed to ensuring that those who share our mission know that the key to excellence is a well-recognized and celebrated Direct Support workforce.

As President of NADSP, this issue of Frontline Initiative excites me because it offers ways to incorporate recognition of our work into our daily lives and at all levels of the system. We have assembled a group of authors who share research, best practices, and policy actions that can be used by individuals and organizations to advance the status of Direct Support.

Over the past year, in an effort to help the nation better recognize the Direct Support Professional, Board members have focused on developing and marketing the NADSP credential. We are excited to offer this opportunity for individuals, organizations, and policymakers to recognize and support your work. Since we released the product last year, 121 individuals became credentialed at the DSP-Registered level. Numerous organizations have embraced and included the credential in their recognition and/or compensation systems.

The training community is also buzzing about the NADSP credential: Many organizations are aligning their training curricula with NADSP’s community support skills standards so they can award the credential. The Board is developing a pathway and designing protocols for programs to qualify. We want to expand the opportunity for DSPs to be recognized for excellent service. You can now become credentialed by using accredited curricula; visit to explore the options. The criteria for the first step in the credentialing process – the DSP-Registered level of the credential – are simple and easily attained through tenure and good service provision. Two subsequent levels of the credential, DSP-Certified and DSP-Specialist, are also available.

NADSP also took a position on the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2007, authored by Lois Capps of California and Lee Terry of Nebraska. This bill recognizes the need for wage parity for DSPs in community-based settings.

NADSP has joined many organizations in supporting this legislation and asks its membership to help make our collective voice heard. Let your policymakers know you support this legislation and ask them to do the same. NADSP also aims to soon have our own action alert network. In this way we can keep you posted on ways to affect policy. Until we build our network, we encourage our membership to connect with one of our allies to keep up with what is happening with H.R. 1279, to learn about other policy issues and of course, to make your voice heard. Two allies with great action alert networks are The Arc of the United States and ANCOR, and they are fighting to get Direct Support Professionals recognized nationwide.

Please remember that you are key to the success of those you support and to the success of this industry. The only way we can get the recognition we so richly deserve is to get involved, get informed, and get included.