Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities has entered into a $10 million partnership with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals to expand opportunities for professional credentialing for direct support professionals in the developmental disabilities field throughout New York State. The three-year agreement will help professionalize the direct support professional workforce and address worker shortages.
“Workforce shortages are putting a tremendous strain on our dedicated direct service professionals, and in response New York is taking action to provide career advancement and growth opportunities in this crucial field,” Governor Hochul said. “This $10 million partnership to expand credentialing will prove critical in providing support for training, education and expanded recruitment and retention efforts – an important step in meeting the needs of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.”
OPWDD’s partnership with the National Alliance will provide access to three levels of direct support professionals credentialing and its frontline supervisor certification through participation in its E-Badge Academy. The project is supported by federal funds OPWDD is receiving through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
The National Alliance credential is competency-based and modeled on the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ Direct Service Workforce Core Competencies and the National Alliance Code of Ethics.
Founded in 1996, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals’ mission is to enhance the quality of support provided to people with disabilities through the provision of products, services and certifications which elevate the status of direct support workers. The organization strongly promotes recognition and identity of direct support professionals to spur meaningful public policy investments, while also advancing the knowledge, skills, and values of this occupation.
In the coming weeks, the National Alliance will release a request for proposals for eligible home and community-based service provider organizations to participate in the grant and claim seats in the E-badge Academy for staff. The National Alliance will provide credentialing or certification for about 2,442 direct service professionals and frontline supervisors over the length of the three-year contract.
The project will provide bonuses for participating direct service professionals. In addition, the project will reimburse employers for training hours undertaken by their staff.
Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “Expanding access to this industry-recognized credential will improve the competence and skills of our workforce and ultimately increase retention rates. It will provide our dedicated frontline staff who have been working tirelessly to meet the needs of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities under tremendous pressure the professional advancement and career opportunities they so well deserve. And, most importantly, it will help to ensure that thousands of New Yorkers those who need caring, expert direct service professionals to show up every day ready to meet their needs will receive the services they need to pursue their personal best and live their most fulfilling lives.”
Representative Kathleen Rice said, “Direct Support Professionals provide critical patient care and allow the most vulnerable New Yorkers to live independent, meaningful lives, but rarely do they receive pay, benefits, or training commensurate with the importance of their work. In Congress, I lead the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act to help the federal government understand and address the needs of this workforce, and I’m grateful for Governor Hochul’s actions to expand career opportunities for DSPs and reduce the shortage of homecare workers in New York.”
State Senator John W. Mannion said, “Direct Support Professionals need our support because the workforce crisis is having a profound impact on the ability to deliver services and necessary care. Expanding training and credentialing will allow DSPs the ability to advance professionally while helping to recruit and retain more compassionate New Yorkers into the care economy. This is an important step towards providing some relief for our overwhelmed and unfairly burdened DSPs. Governor Hochul has been a partner in addressing the workforce crisis and I look forward to working together to deliver additional solutions to this long standing problem.”
National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph MacBeth said, “We are proud to be working with OPWDD and the New York provider community in demonstrating the value of direct support professional credentialing by providing access to the E-Badge Academy for nearly 2500 direct service professionals and frontline supervisors. The workforce crisis is a long-standing and complex issue that requires interventions in many areas. Recognizing the demonstration of skills and providing financial incentives for high-performing direct support professionals and frontline supervisors is an important first step to being recognized as a profession.”
New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation President & CEO Michael Seereiter said, “The NY Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation applauds the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals in working together with OPWDD to administer a rigorous credentialing program for direct support professionals that will allow direct service professionals to advance their knowledge, values, and skills by obtaining certification. It offers a path to a career ladder and aides in addressing the DSP workforce shortage in addition to supporting DSPs to continue providing quality supports and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
This initiative is part of a greater effort to enhance, improve and transform key aspects of the OPWDD service system using COVID-19 relief funds awarded by the federal CMS. These funds are targeted to specific activities across a wide range of OPWDD programs and provide a timely opportunity to address critical challenges.
OPWDD’s plans for all of its ARPA funds can be found at: https://opwdd.ny.gov/