New Jersey’s College of Direct Support (CDS) is a training program created for Direct Support Professionals (DSP) in order to create a Career Path for the DSP field. New Jersey’s Career Path creates a unique opportunity for DSPs by combining online learning with onsite mentoring and competency demonstration through portfolio development by DSPs. Several ABCD member agencies are participating in the CDS pilot program.
The goal of the Career Paths is to enhance the skills and professionalism of Direct Support Professionals and to decrease the DSP turnover rate through incentivized career preparation and recognition of educational efforts. With input from the members of the New Jersey Direct Support Professional Work Force Development Coalition (NJDSPWFDC), of which ABCD is a member and active participant, the Boggs Center is currently running a pilot of this program with provider agencies in New Jersey.
CDS itself consists of two levels of online course work with over 100 modules each for DSPs to complete. Each module focuses on a core competency area such as cultural diversity or functional skills. Once the program is operational statewide DSPs at all New Jersey provider agencies will have the option to further their professional goals by pursuing these courses. Currently, members of the NJDSPWFD Coalition and the Boggs Center are working on creating a third level to the online courses. This level will be a specialization course focused on people who are dually diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mental health issues.
In other recent DSP and CDS news, Governor Corzine declared September 13th through the 19th to be DSP week in New Jersey. The 2009 DSP week celebration was capped off by the Boggs Center Symposium for Direct Support Professionals: Making a Difference. The symposium included an educational presentation by Bill Gaventa, MDiv, of the Boggs Center, a DSP Panel Discussion, DSP of the year awards, reading the Governor’s proclamation of DSP week, a speech by Assistant Commissioner Kenneth Ritchey, and an awards ceremony for DSPs completing level I and/or level II of CDS’s pilot program. In total, 85 DSPs from agencies participating in the CDS Pilot Program have completed levels I and/or II.
As the statewide roll-out of the College of Direct Support (CDS) tracking and training programs continue, the Boggs Center has updated its website to reflect all current information about the statewide implementation of the CDS and the Career Path Pilot program. In addition, The DSP Career Path Quarterly, the official newsletter of the roll-out, will continue to be available at the Boggs Center website as well.