Direct support professional

Direct support professional
This article deals with the employed caregivers of developmentally disabled individuals; for the employed caregivers of mobility impaired and other physically disabled individuals, see Personal Care Assistant.

Direct support professionals (DSPs) are people who work directly with people with developmental disabilities with the aim of assisting the individual to become integrated into his /her community or the least restrictive environment.

A direct support professional is a person who assists an individual with a developmental disability to lead a self-directed life and contribute to the community, assists with activities of daily living if needed, and encourages attitudes and behaviors that enhance community inclusion. A DSP may provide supports to a person with a disability at home, work, school, church, and other community places. A DSP also acts as an advocate for the disabled individual, in communicating their needs, self expression and goals.


DSP training

A DSP should complete training as per their individual states' requirements. These are per the State of California [1] and have the following core training modules:

Year one training

  • 1 The Direct Support Professional
  • 2 The California Developmental Disabilities Service System
  • 3 Risk Management and Incident Report
  • 4 Medication Management: Part 1
  • 5 Medication Management: Part 2
  • 6 Wellness: Maintaining the Best Possible Health
  • 7 Dental and Oral Health
  • 8 Signs & and Symptoms of Illness and Injury
  • 9 Risk Management: Environmental Safety
  • 10 Communication
  • 11 Positive Behavior Support
  • 12 Resources

Year two training

  • 1 Making Choices
  • 2 Person centered planning
  • 3 Medication Management
  • 4 Preventive Health Care and Advocacy
  • 5 Nutrition and Exercise
  • 6 Strategies for Successful Teaching Part 1
  • 7 Strategies for Successful Teaching Part 2
  • 8 Risk Management in Daily Living
  • 9 Positive Behavior Support, Part 1
  • 10 Positive Behavior Support, Part 2
  • 11 Life Quality
  • 12 Resources

Willowbrook State School

Direct Support Professional training and community placement/living became more prevalent following the Willowbrook State School scandal where it was uncovered following an investigation by then WABC journalist Geraldo Rivera, that residents were being physically mistreated and kept in poor living conditions. Telly Award winning film Everyday Heroes, produced by Pleasantville, New York media production company Creators Media Group, highlights the work of Direct Support Professionals.

Lack of national standard of care

As of May 2006 Michigan and 5 other states were gearing up to implement fingerprinting background [2] checks for Direct Support Professionals that provide care in long term care facilities. The lack of National Standard leaves some of the most vulnerable at risk. States like California have had criminal background checks for over two decades yet other states are just coming on board.[3]

California direct support professional training

The requirement for the community care facility direct care staff training (a.k.a. Direct Support Professional Training) was created by Assembly Bill 2780 [4] enacted in 1998. AB 950, approved by the Governor in August, 2001, amends the Welfare and Institutions Code. Effective January 1, 1999, the Department of Developmental Services implemented mandated statewide competency-based training for direct support professionals employed in regional center vendored community care facilities. This legislation followed a series reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on poorly trained staff and a high death rate for the developmentally disabled in the State of California

In 1998, the California legislature established the Direct Support Professional (DSP) Training Program. The purpose of the program is to increase quality of care for people with developmental disabilities living in licensed community care facilities by ensuring core competencies or skills for all Direct Support Professionals.

The statewide training program requires all Direct Support Professionals to successfully complete 70-hours of training over two years, or pass a challenge test for each of two, 35-hour training segments. Upon successfully completing either of these requirements, Direct Support Professional Certification will be provided.

The DSP requirements are not in place for DDN or DDH facilities under the Department of Health Services of the State of California. These requirements are also not in place for day programs, work acitivity centers or for at home vendored service providers.

  • State of California On-line Resources/Community Care Facility - Direct Support Professional Training Program [5]
  • DSP Training Material:Year 1 [6] and Year 2 [7]
  • Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs) Information, including curriculum, for those Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCP) that offer required training necessary for individuals to work in community care licensed facilities.[8]
  • Los Angeles County Regional Occupational Program, DSP Training [9] and resources links.[10]

Virginia DSP

Direct Support Professional Training through the College of Direct Support [11]

Louisiana DSP

Louisiana Direct Support Professionals [12]

Illinois DSP

Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities [13] The Illinois project has been reviewing options for retention and training since 2003 with a projected outcome of having trained Direct Care Professional and retention once trained.[14]

Tennessee DSP

Direct Support Professionals Association of Tennessee [15]

Kansas DSP

The Kansas Chapter of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals [16]

Internet-Based College for DSPs

An internet-based college for Direct Support Professionals [17]

National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals

National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals [18] Offers Training and National Standards. Some standards may be higher than the National Alliance depending on the State.

External links

  • Caregiver
  • [19] ANCOR Nation Organization for DSPs
  • [20] ANCOR, DSP Code of Ethics
  • [21] Department of Develomental Services, State of California
  • [22] Louisiana Direct Support Professionals
  • [23] Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • [24] College for Direct Support Professionals
  • [25] National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals
  • [26] - H.R. 1279 - Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2007 Advocacy and Awareness
  • [27] - Blog
  • [28] - H.R. 1279 - Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2007 Advocacy and Awareness
  • [29] - Stop the Direct Support Professional (DSP) Workforce Wage Crisis (Community)


  • San Francisco Chronicle Series
  • State of California Department of Social Services [30]
  • California State Assembly Bill 2780 [31]
  • Long-term care aims to be safer [32]
  • Federal Level: H.R. 1279 - Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2007 [33]

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