News: Happy Fourth Birthday NADSP E-Badge Academy
Today marks four years since the launch of the NADSP E-Badge Academy. It has been an incredible four years marked with significant growth both of this credentialing program and within the NADSP Team. What’s been the most impactful for us has been hearing from direct support professionals how much this program has changed the way they work and how they feel about their work. We look forward to reading the Earner of the Month profiles each month. Every profile ends with the question on how folks feel about their professional identity. Without fail, the responses are almost always a reflection on how the direct support professional or frontline supervisor feels stronger in their identity. In our December 2022 Earner of the Month profile, Nicole Swartz shared, “I feel more skilled and equipped in my job as a DSP. With each badge, I am encouraged in skills that I have and made aware of skills that I can continue to improve upon.” Our October 2022 profile by Racheal Ismail shared similar sentiments sharing, “ I do feel stronger in my occupation. I feel like I have more skills, a better understanding of how to support people, and know how to provide more choices and advocacy.”
The impact of having a stronger identity alone is reason to celebrate, but the NADSP E-Badge Academy has lead to better retention outcomes from agencies across the country. In our 2021 report, ‘The NADSP E-Badge Academy: Integrating Direct Support Professional Knowledge, Skills & Values into a National Career Ladder Program, three organizations shared the impact of the NADSP -Badge Academy on retention of credentialed workers compared to those outside the program. It’s striking to see how much of an impact this program has had in just few years. And – we’re just getting started!
2022 marked the year we were awarded a significant grant to pilot the NADSP E-Badge Academy in New York state. This lead to the expansion of our staff but also meetings with states all of over the country who are championing the same idea that now more than ever, the professionalization of our field and the elevation of direct support professionals is the next frontier.
Based on sound research, stakeholder collaboration and state of the art technology, the NADSP E-Badge Academy is built for growth. By using the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Core Competency set, the E-Badge Academy can be used by the direct service workforce across service sectors to include mental health, substance use disorders, developmental and physical disabilities, and the aging population that requires long-term services and supports in the home and community.
Using other specialty-area competency sets that currently exist, our vision is to expand and create a true on-line academy where the fastest growing occupation in the country – the caregiving workforce – can learn, practice and be recognized for their complex and demanding jobs.
By creating more specialized E-Badges and certifications to include dementia support, dual diagnosis support, employment supports, and autism spectrum supports, we will continue to provide much needed avenues to professional development. This will raise standards for those who seek expertise in specialty areas. Of course, this will require strong collaboration with industry experts, the self-advocacy community, family advocates and provider networks to create a cross-sector, digital learning, and certification community.
We are excited to continue this journey and to further our mission of elevating the role of direct support professionals through the NADSP E-Badge Academy. Happy Fourth Birthday E-Badge Academy!
About the NADSP E-Badge Academy
The NADSP E-Badge Academy offers direct support professionals and frontline supervisors the ability to earn national certification through electronic badges through an online platform. These badges demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and values that these professionals utilize every day, recognizing the professional development that might otherwise go unacknowledged. The NADSP E-Badge Academy is competency-based and modeled on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Direct Service Workforce Core Competencies and the NADSP Code of Ethics. This industry-recognized credential is anticipated to professionalize the field by improving the competence and skills of the workforce, and ultimately increasing retention rates.