The Resource Center's commitment to enhancing career opportunities for its direct support workforce has earned the organization a national award.
TRC recently received word that its People Achieving Certification Together prototype was selected a winner of a 2014 Moving Mountains Best Practice Award. The competition was sponsored by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals and the Research and Training Center at the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration.
Direct support professionals provide one-on-one support to individuals with disabilities. Supporting people with special needs to enjoy a great life is rewarding work, but it is also demanding - direct support professionals need to understand a range of disabling conditions; they provide care to people with complex physical and behavioral challenges; and they are responsible for adhering to a high level of administrative oversight that comes from dealing with the welfare of a vulnerable population.
TRC employees pictured at a ceremony celebrating The Resource Center’s receipt of a Moving Mountains Award are, from left, Don Traynor, staff development specialist; Katrina Gibson and Kathy Cornelius, direct support professionals; Josh Miller, assistant site supervisor; Lisa Belk, DSP trainer; Debbie Rapp, site supervisor; Brigitte Hodnett, DSP trainer; Jessica Riquer, supported living specialist; Carla Hall, medical aide; Jennifer Dawson, residence manager; and Michele Albaugh, assistant director of staff training.
The critical work performed by direct support professionals makes up the backbone of The Resource Center. Quality service begins at the point of interaction - and the relationships developed - between DSPs and individuals with disabilities.
To provide recognition for the contributions and competence of DSPs and to establish a career path for people in the profession, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals created a national credentialing program. The Resource Center developed its PACT program to support employees as they seek to obtain certification through the NADSP. The PACT prototype consisted of assigning educational modules (through the College of Direct Support) to those DSPs interested in achieving national certification. At the end of each two-week module, DSPs met with a facilitator to discuss the material learned and review the employees' efforts at implementing their new skills in their jobs.
The PACT prototype lasted 18 months. During that time, the participating DSPs engaged in peer mentoring and shared their experiences with other colleagues in their departments. Facilitation and peer mentoring were critical, as TRC administrators had learned that it's unreasonable to expect DSPs to pursue certification by themselves.
Initially, four TRC employees achieved DSP certification; others currently are going through the process. The success of the PACT program can be seen in the ways the certified DSPs now view themselves, their profession and the people they support.
The PACT prototype "has been a catalyst to enable DSPs to successfully develop professional skills, greatly enhance the positive impact they have on the people they support, and validate them as a leader in the promotion of a profession on a national level," TRC stated in its award nomination.
"This thoughtfully planned and well implemented, system change effort is truly impressive. We are pleased to be recognizing this program of excellence with the 2014 Moving Mountains Award," NADSP and University of Minnesota officials wrote in their letter notifying The Resource Center of its award.
The Resource Center was one of two organizations to receive a 2014 Moving Mountains Best Practice Award. TRC will receive its award at the NADSP's Reinventing Quality Conference in Baltimore in August.