Celebrating Direct Support Professionals

National Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Week Begins September 7

Each year, during National Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) Recognition Week, Ohio stands tall with a major DSP recognition event.  Hosted at the Xenos conference center in Columbus on September 10, this year’s event will spotlight Ohio DSPs’ commitment to supporting people with developmental disabilities, and will debut original films about direct support professionals, made by DSPs themselves.  Sponsored by the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (OADSP) in partnership with service providers, this event is free each year, and attracts a large crowd due to its strong positive focus and opportunities for professional networking.  Learn more, and register at the event website.

Beyond the one-day event, and acknowledging the importance of professionalism in the direct support field, OADSP has created a Code of Ethics for DSPs.  Because DSPs often are called upon to make independent judgments on a daily basis that involve both practical and ethical reasoning, OADSP has underscored certain values to guide them in their work. The Code of Ethics includes key concepts toward professionalism, including a commitment to person-centered support, promoting physical and emotional well-being, and displaying integrity and responsibility.

Beyond the one-day event, and acknowledging the importance of professionalism in the direct support field, NADSP has created a Code of Ethics for DSPs.  Because DSPs often are called upon to make independent judgments on a daily basis that involve both practical and ethical reasoning, OADSP has underscored certain values to guide them in their work. The Code of Ethics includes key concepts toward professionalism, including a commitment to person-centered support, promoting physical and emotional well-being, and displaying integrity and responsibility.

In addition to the Code of Ethics, the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (OADSP) has developed a DSPATHS curriculum that offers sequential credentials that teach, reinforce, and build upon the essential skills of a highly-qualified DSP. The Basic Certificate course offers the student a basic knowledge of the skills required to become a Direct Support Professional. Following that, DSPATHS students may continue the training to earn a Certificate of Initial Proficiency, and a Certificate of Advanced Proficiency.

Amy Gerowitz, executive director of OADSP recently reflected on the importance of building a path to professionalism.  She observed, “Nearly 20 years ago, I attended my first meeting of NADSP.  At that meeting, leaders in the movement began to create the professional structure by developing guiding principles, and the framework for a national organization.  In Ohio, we had the first meeting in 1998 of a group of stakeholders interested in moving this profession forward, and in 2001 the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council awarded $50,000 to OADSP to begin the work to create a credentialed, highly-qualified direct support workforce in Ohio.

“In 2010, OADSP — along with many other co-sponsors — presented the first Ohio DSP recognition event where 200 (and in subsequent years, nearly 500) DSPs came together to be celebrated and recognized.”  She added,

I am pleased to note that DSPATHS was the first statewide DSP credentialing program to be awarded accreditation from NADSP.  We will continue to work in Ohio, and with our national partners, to elevate and recognize the direct support profession.”

2010 -- Looking Back, and Ahead In 2011, Ohio’s DSP Recognition Event hosted about 300 DSPs. In 2013, a whopping 500 attended, bringing many new faces to the venue to, “Celebrate their awesomeness,” as event spokesman Scott Osterfeld said. National DSP Recognition Week was first declared by the U.S. Senate in 2008 to recognize the vital role of Direct Support Professionals in enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities.

2010 — Looking Back, and Ahead
In 2011, Ohio’s DSP Recognition Event hosted about 300 DSPs. In 2013, a whopping 500 attended, bringing many new faces to the venue to, “Celebrate their awesomeness,” as event spokesman Scott Osterfeld said. National DSP Recognition Week was first declared by the U.S. Senate in 2008 to recognize the vital role of Direct Support Professionals in enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities.

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