Direct Support Professionals from The Arc Lexington receive national certification through FMCC’s new DSP Microcredential Program
DSPs recognized for dedication to provide services for people with disabilities
GLOVERSVILLE – A group of Direct Support Professionals from The Arc Lexington received their national certification in the field Thursday after completing the first cohort of the new DSP Microcredential Program being offered at SUNY Fulton-Montgomery Community College (FMCC) in partnership with the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The program provides advanced training and continuing education to help DSPs provide daily services and supports for people with disabilities.
During a special recognition ceremony held Thursday, January 11, The Arc Lexington was joined by OPWDD, FMCC, state officials, and members of the community to provide certificates to each of the graduating DSPs, along with a $750 stipend. They include Kendra Barra, Calli Logan, Thomas O’Brien, Annie Stock, Gwennolyn Thompson, Uriah Williams.
“This is just the first group of DSPs from our agency who have received this national certification, showing their dedication to attend college while working and maintaining their personal responsibilities, all so they can best ensure that the people they care for get the quality services and support that they deserve. And I hope that many more follow in their footsteps to take advantage of this monumental opportunity,” said Shaloni Winston, CEO of The Arc Lexington. “I also want to thank FMCC and OPWDD for providing such a critical resource to the area.”
DSPs from The Arc Lexington made up the entire first cohort of the FMCC program, representing different areas throughout the agency. Calli Logan is one DSP who currently serves as a peer mentor at Transitions, a post-secondary program designed to provide comprehensive support and guidance to young adults with autism and other neurodivergent conditions as they navigate through college, careers, and independent living.
“Not only have I completed and learned things that I need for the workplace, but I now have an entirely new skill set that will help anywhere else,” said Logan, reflecting on a class that covered the history of DSPs and working with people with disabilities. “This has made me even more passionate about the work I do and the people we support.”
The DSP Microcredential Program launched last fall through a partnership between SUNY and OPWDD at a dozen college campuses, including FMCC, to support the academic and career success of DSPs across the state. Successful completion of the program leads to SUNY microcredentials and college credentials, one or more national certifications, and college credit toward a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree. Due to grant funding, the program covers the cost of tuition, fees and books.
“As this program grows over the next two years, this first DSP 1 cohort will always be a special group of individuals to me,” said Julie Lindh, Assistant Professor of Human Services for FMCC. “They jumped into the program and worked tremendously hard to successfully complete three college classes along with working as DSPs at Lexington. It has been an honor to be a part of their progression in the DSP profession and to teach them more about the knowledge, skills and concepts they carry out every day in their work as DSPs. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for more DSPs who want to further their education, broaden their knowledge and progress their careers in this important work.”
OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “OPWDD is proud to partner with SUNY Fulton-Montgomery Community College to offer direct support professionals a microcredentialing program that hones their skills as caregivers and recognizes them for the professionalism they bring to the job every day. We’ve heard from DSPs that they feel more empowered and connected to the people they support and valued by their employers who are encouraging their professional development. Congratulations to the graduates and thank you to The Arc Lexington for their adoption of this program and for their partnership in this effort to highlight and elevate the direct support profession.”
While the DSP Microcredential Program focuses on DSPs, it also provides educational opportunities for everyone. At The Arc Lexington, all employees are encouraged to enroll in the program, as the college credits they earn can be used for a different degree. For example, if an employee is studying nursing, the credits they would receive for the psychology course could count toward their necessary nursing credits. This can also prove incredibly helpful for younger employees such as recent high school graduates or Human Service interns who are just starting out in the field, but want to gain college credits for another degree they want to pursue in the future.
About The Arc Lexington:
The Arc Lexington, a chapter of The Arc New York, is a highly regarded nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with autism and developmental disabilities to live their best lives in Fulton, Albany and Schoharie Counties. Created in 1953 by a group of concerned parents, Lexington is one of only 8 such organizations worldwide that hold the prestigious accreditation in person-centered excellence with distinction from the Council on Quality and Leadership, reflecting the quality of its comprehensive range of services and supports. For more information about Lexington and its programs and services visit www.thearclexington.org.