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Educational opportunities for direct support professionals: the college of direct support, an internet-based college for direct support professionals. (Education).

The Administration on Developmental Disabilities, US Department of Health and Human Services, recently funded a project to create an on-line training program for direct support professionals (DSPs). This project is a public/private partnership that brings together the University of Minnesota's Research and Training Center on Community Living, Sertoma Center, Inc., and MC Strategies, Inc. to create a comprehensive, interactive multimedia training program for DSPs. This training program will also be of interest to families, educators, and interested citizens who want to learn more about community supports for people with developmental and other types of disabilities.

More than four million people with developmental disabilities live in the United States. These individuals and their families receive varied types and amounts of services and supports from an estimated 750,000 DSPs. It is easy to imagine what a challenge it is to get training out to this many people--one that has become even more difficult because of an increased demand for community support services and high vacancy and annual turnover rates of DSPs. With few pre-service training programs available to DSPs, and a heavy reliance on classroom training at provider agencies, it is clear we need another option. An on-line training and education program provides such an option.

Once completed, the College of Direct Support (CDS) will include 36 courses and approximately 180 lessons. The initial funding includes the development of 11 courses and approximately 54 lessons. With each lesson approximately 30-40 minutes long, the premiere curriculum will include roughly 27-36 hours of introductory training. DSPs can log in to the Web site and work through lessons at their convenience, from anywhere at any time.

The content included in the CDS is based on comprehensive and nationally validated job analyses designed to identify the competencies required of DSPs who support people with disabilities in community services. It also embraces the tenets of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professional's Code of Ethics. Competency is measured in three ways in the CDS: through a pre- and post-test, through on-the-job assessment, and by portfolio assessment. The pre-test is designed to guide the learner through the lesson. The on-the-job assessment--a tool provided to the learner and his supervisor--assists the learner in transferring the information and knowledge he has learned in the lesson to the actual work environment. The portfolio assessment is designed to identify actual items or products that a DSP could pull together and share with others that would illustrate her competence.

The initial 11 courses for the premiere CDS were prioritized by a national advisory committee and will include:

1. Introduction to developmental disabilities

2. Safety at home and in the community

3. Maltreatment of vulnerable adults and children

4. Supporting healthy lives

5. Teaching people with disabilities

6. Rights and choice

7. Community inclusion

8. Positive approaches to challenging behavior

9. Documentation and record keeping

10. Social and relationship skills

11. Direct support professionalism

For more information, log on to


The Community Supports Program for People with Disabilities (CSP) is a credit-bearing educational program offered through the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) system. The courses offered in the CSP emphasize building on the strengths and capacities of people with disabilities to maximize community inclusion. The curriculum is designed to train DSPs to provide effective residential, vocational, educational, or in-home supports to people with disabilities in their communities, and meets the competencies identified in the national skill standards for the industry: the Community Support Skills Standards (CSSS). The program offers several educational awards including a Certificate, a Specialized Diploma, and an AAS or AA degree.

For more information on the CSP program, contact Carla Lagerstedt at St. Cloud Technical College, 1540 Northway Dr., St. Cloud, MN; Phoebe: (320) 654-5403; Fax: (320) 654-5568.

Useful Educational Resources for Direct Support Professionals

* ISSUES IN DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES (IIDD) is an internet-based course in the field of mental retardation and other developmental disabilities, and is offered through the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Focus is placed on incidence, etiology, assessment, prevention, philosophical approaches, service coordination, and intervention. The 15-week course (30 hours) can be taken for continuing education or university credits. Videotaped lectures are available on the Internet via streaming technology, and lecture transcripts are also available on the Web site. More information about IIDD is available by calling (608) 263-0271; E-mail:; Web site:

* THE MASTER OF SCIENCE IN DISABILITY AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS at Chicago offers interdisciplinary, graduate-level training in disability research and scholarship. Specialization study and research is offered on disability policy and organization, disability studies, and rehabilitation technology. Many opportunities are available in each area to develop subspecialization. For more information, contact the Department of Disability and Human Development, 1640 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL 60608-6904; Phone: (312) 413-1647; TDD: 312-413-0453; E-mail:; Web site:

* FRONT LINE UNIVERSITY is CMRA's new virtual campus for supervisors, DSPs, managers, and executive directors in the field of mental retardation and developmental disabilities. Access to all courses is user-friendly and available 24 hours a day. By clicking the Meet the Faculty link, you can learn about the professionals who have developed the electronic continuing education courses. Five classes are offered, covering topics such as fundamentals in supervisory skills, the Code of Ethics specifically designed for direct support professionals, supervising former peers, determining how and why people work, achieving success as a supervisor, working with the individual's and the agency's finances, building an effective team, the importance of technical and people knowledge, and specific avoidable protection from harm issues. For more information on these courses, contact Robin Atwood, via E-mail at: or Katrina Lee, at:; or visit the Web site: http//

* BETHESDA LUTHERAN HOMES & SERVICES (BLHS) offers workshops and videos that provide training to community services providers. The workshops are offered throughout the year, and arrangements can be made to have a workshop come to your job site. The workshops cover training of staff in caring for people with developmental disabilities, person-centered planning and supervision, training direct care staff, proactive strategies for maladaptive behavior, and more. The videos teach how to show individuals with disabilities how to perform personal hygiene and other tasks that will improve their quality of life. The tapes can serve as individual training sessions, or can be bought as an entire series to work as an in-depth learning process. For more information, contact BLHS; Phone: (800) 369-4636, ext. 418; E-mail:; Web site:

* ELMHURST COLLEGE offers human services courses at the Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities in Illinois. The courses are designed for students seeking professional-level administrative positions in the field of human services. Professional employees of the Ray Graham Association, which employs 500 staff members and serves almost 2,000 people with disabilities, account for the largest portion of students. For more information, please call Dr. Patricia Lynott at (630) 617-3300.

* THE JOHN F. KENNEDY, JR. INSTITUTE FOR WORKER EDUCATION, City University of New York, has implemented the Direct Care Worker Incentive Pilot Program (DCWIPP) in an attempt to link the achievement of employee tenure, higher education, and competency of direct care staff to financial incentives and educational benefits. This program aims to improve the quality of direct care services by providing incentives for the recruitment and retention of exemplary staff, creating a diverse group of future leaders in the field, and facilitating organizational change. For more information, contact William Ebenstein, Ph.D., by phone at: (212) 794-5486, or E-mail:

* FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DISABILITY AND REHABILITATION RESEARCH (US Department of Education), the National Resource Center on Supported Living and Choice is designed to promote the full inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in community life and continues the work of the Center on Human Policy in the areas of training, technical assistance, consultation, and information dissemination. The National Resource Center provides informational materials on community inclusion, supported living, and choice. The University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Minnesota, TASH (formerly The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps), and the National Parent Network on Disabilities (NPND) collaborate with the Center on Human Policy in the National Resource Center. To obtain more information contact: National Resource Center on Supported Living and Choice, The Center on Human Policy, Syracuse University, 805 South Crouse Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13244-2280; Phone: (315) 443-3851 or (800) 894-0826; TDD: (315) 443-4355; E-mail:; Web site:

* PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATES (PDA) offers training videos, CD-ROMs, and curricula on topics ranging from disability awareness and history to self-advocacy and assistive technology. As a distributor and producer of training information for professionals in the disability field, PDA has been providing educational resources since 1986. The following training videos for DSPs are available: "A Little History Worth Knowing," "Supporting Self Determination," "Universal Enhancement," "Critical Crossroads," and "The Ten Commandments of Communicating with People with Disabilities." For more information, contact PDA at: 5620 Business Ave., Suite B, Cicero, NY, 13039; Phone: (800) 543-2119 or (315) 452-0643; E-mail:; Web site:

* THE OHIO DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL RETARDATION AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES offers a training video, "General Planning Practices: Using the Team Process to Address Behavioral Issues." This video contains training on practices and procedures that improve the quality of care given to people with disabilities. To obtain a copy, E-mail Carolyn Otis at:

* THE CHILDREN'S ASSOCIATION FOR MAXIMUM POTENTIAL (CAMP), of Texas, offers the Developmental Disabilities Review Course at its summer camp. The course is a week-long combination of classroom lectures and direct interaction with the campers, who are children with various disabilities. This provides a "hands-on" opportunity to learn how to care for children with disabilities. CAMP provides room and board. Continuing education credits can be earned. For more information, contact Matt Niziol, Training Coordinator & Assistant Camping Director by phone at (210) 292-3566; or E-mail:

* NATIONAL CLEARINGHOUSE ON THE DIRECT CARE WORKFORCE Developed by the Paraprofessional Health Institute, in cooperation with the Direct Care Alliance, The National Clearinghouse on the Direct Care Workforce brings together policy- and practice-related resources from around the country and makes them available to providers, consumers, workers, policy makers, and researchers. The National Clearinghouse collects, analyzes, and disseminates a wide range of information, including: examples of effective provider practices; reports, studies, and other analyses; articles from trade press, academia, and the general media; materials from government agencies, interest groups, and trade associations; examples of effective advocacy efforts; and Federal and state laws, regulations, and policies. You can contact the National Clearinghouse at:

National Clearinghouse on the Direct Care Workforce

349 East 149th St., Ste. 401

Bronx, NY 10451

Phone: (718) 402-4133


Web site:

Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute Web site:

Direct Care Alliance Web site:

* OHIO OFFERS TRAINING PROGRAM Ohio Association of County Boards of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OACBMRDD) in cooperation with Ohio State University has begun to offer a self-paced training program via the Internet. Taking the course is the equivalent of taking a 30-hour classroom course and the cost is $125 per person. This training program is offered on a monthly basis by Ohio State and is endorsed by OACBMRDD.For more information, log onto the Web site:

* DIRECT CARE: MAKING A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE An International Conference on Practice and Professionalism, June 13-15, 2002 at the State University of New York at New Paltz. This international conference will create a live forum for sharing global perspectives on the provision of direct care services. Individuals from participating countries will also have an opportunity to exchange valuable insights and information on many key aspects of direct care work. The focus and theme of this conference is the essential presence and practice of direct care in every culture. The conference organizers also welcome proposals from around the world from individuals involved in research, practice, education, or administration in the fields of direct care, social pedagogy, and human services across the life span. Workshop proposals are expected to be congruent with the aims of the conference. For more information on the Conference and Workshop Proposals contact:

Direct Care: Making A World of Difference

c/o Greystone Programs, Inc.

24 DeLavergne Avenue

Wappingers Falls, NY 12590 U.S.A.

Phone: (845) 297-8800, Extension 111

Fax: (845) 297-6323


Web site: http:

Amy Hewitt, PhD, University of Minnesota Research and Training Center on Community Living
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Author:Hewitt, Amy
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Previous Article:World Congress and Exposition on Disabilities announces impressive keynote line-up. (On The Road Again To Atlanta).
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