Our Work

NADSP strives to elevate the status of direct support professionals


A world with a highly qualified and professional direct support workforce that partners with, supports and empowers people with disabilities to lead a life of their choosing.


To elevate the status of direct support professionals by improving practice standards, promoting system reform, and advancing their knowledge, skills and values.


NADSP values the full participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life through the provision of person-centered supports. We believe that high quality support requires all professionals to follow the individual path suggested by the unique gifts, preferences, and needs of each person they support, and to walk in partnership with the person, and those who love him or her, toward a life of opportunity, well-being, freedom, and contribution.

Operating Principles

NADSP is guided by a belief that:

  • All direct support professionals benefit from access to well-constructed educational experiences (e.g., in-service training, continuing and higher education) and lifelong learning;
  • Certifying highly qualified workers incentivizes continuing education, increased compensation, and access to career pathways for direct support professionals thereby improving retention;
  • Values and ethical decision making can be learned and infused into daily practice; and
  • Strengthening relationships and partnerships between direct support professionals, self-advocates, and other consumer groups and families improves the quality of support.

Formally adopted by the board of directors, January, 2017.

NADSP Services

The various services and programs offered by The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) provide professional development opportunities along with the resulting recognition and acknowledgement that employees deserve. Whether a DSP pursues a rigorous certification, or a Frontline Supervisor benefits from an in-depth curriculum, NADSP equips organizations with tools to help their employees succeed.

E-Badge Academy

The NADSP E-Badge Academy offers DSPs the ability to earn electronic badges to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and values.


Certification provides national recognition for the contributions and competence of staff who meet the NADSP certification standards.


These professional development options will help improve both the knowledge and skill sets of DSPs, Frontline Supervisors, and other human service providers.


NADSP has developed a number of curricula options to help human service providers bring the ideals and approaches of NADSP into their organization.

Accredited Education

NADSP’s accredited education offering demonstrates that programs effectively teach the ethics, knowledge, and skills that constitute best practice.

Keynote Presentations

NADSP conducts keynote presentations for conferences and meetings to inform attendees about pressing issues affecting human services.

Code of Ethics

The NADSP Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a straightforward and relevant guide for DSPs as they resolve the ethical dilemmas they face every day.

Competency Areas

The NADSP Competency Areas offer DSPs the opportunity to address challenges, work on issues identified by the person they support, or assist someone in pursuing a goal.

Establish a DSP Standard Occupational Classification

A Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) is designated by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics. With the insight gathered through a SOC, governmental agencies, individual organizations, and everyday citizens can uncover otherwise unavailable information about that occupation. Direct Support Professionals do not have one.

Currently, Direct Support Professionals are inaccurately classified in labor reports under other positions, which do not adequately represent the skill requirements of a Direct Support Professional. Without a dedicated SOC for Direct Support Professionals, there are a number of critical ramifications including negative implications for service reimbursement rates, a lack of data for identifying workforce shortages, and an overall devaluation of the workforce.

NADSP is building a coalition to issue a change.org petition to the US Office of Management and Budget, demanding that the office Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification. Direct Support Professionals should not have to work anonymously anymore.

Elevate The Status Of DSPs

If you’re looking to empower direct support professionals – but you don’t know where to start – you can get in touch with NADSP and learn more about strengthening this essential workforce.

Union Neutrality

The National Alliance For Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) is a professional association of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), for DSPs and led by DSPs promoting excellence in direct support work in partnership with people with disabilities. NADSP is neither a labor union nor represented by a union. The position of the NADSP on labor union organizing of direct support professionals (DSPs) is one of neutrality. NADSP neither recommends nor discourages DSPs from joining a union. The purpose and activity of NADSP is to improve the quality of human services and supports through an ethical, credentialed and respected DSP workforce. We believe that the most effective definition of quality is defined at the point of service—the work of DSPs and their positive effect on those whom they support. To fulfill the goal of promoting effective direct support practice, the NADSP works vigorously for systems reform and advocates for workforce development interventions that improve the continuity and quality of direct support practice throughout the country.