The Community Support Skill Standards (CSSS) were created as part of an effort to define the core skills at the heart of community support work. The CSSS were developed by pulling together DSPs from a variety of human service settings, consumers of services, trainers, agency administrators, educators, and others who are invested in quality services, and working with them to identify and define the skills that DSPs need in order to support people with disabilities in leading self-directed lives, contributing to their communities and encouraging the attitudes and behaviors that enhance inclusion in the community. The CSSS are not a set of minimal criteria that a person needs to start in direct support. They reflect the skills, knowledge and attitudes of an experienced worker who is recognized by peers and supervisors as skilled and competent.

Competency Areas

The CSSS competency statements and the related skill standards are listed here. There are 12 Competency areas ranging form Participant Empowerment to Documentation. Under each broad competency statement there are several skill standard statements which describe job function in the competency area.

For a more complete description of the Community Support Skill Standards and their history and purpose you can order: The Community Support Skill Standards: Tools for Managing Change and Achieving Outcomes. (Taylor, Bradley & Warren 1996) from Human Services Research Institute, 2336 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140; Phone; 617-876-0426. http://www.hsri.org

Competency Area 1: Participant Empowerment The competent community support human service practitioner (CSHSP) enhances the ability of the participant to lead a self-determining life by providing the support and information necessary to build self-esteem, and assertiveness; and to make decisions.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP assists and supports the participant to develop strategies, make informed choices, follow through on responsibilities, and take risks.
  • The competent CSHSP promotes participant partnership in the design of support services, consulting the person and involving him or her in the support process.
  • The competent CSHSP provides opportunities for the participant to be a self-advocate by increasing awareness of self-advocacy methods and techniques, encouraging and assisting the participant to speak on his or her own behalf, and providing information on peer support and self-advocacy groups.
  • The competent CSHSP provides information about human, legal, civil rights and other resources, facilitates access to such information and assists the participant to use information for self-advocacy and decision making about living, work, and social relationships.

Competency Area 2: Communication The community support human service practitioner should be knowledgeable about the range of effective communication strategies and skills necessary to establish a collaborative relationship with the participant.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP uses effective, sensitive communication skills to build rapport and channels of communication by recognizing and adapting to the range of participant communication styles.
  • The competent CSHSP has knowledge of and uses modes of communication that are appropriate to the communication needs of participants.
  • The skilled CSHSP learns and uses terminology appropriately, explaining as necessary to ensure participant understanding.

Competency Area 3: Assessment The community support human service practitioner should be knowledgeable about formal and informal assessment practices in order to respond to the needs, desires and interests of the participants.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP initiates or assists in the initiation of an assessment process by gathering information (e.g., participant's self-assessment and history, prior records, test results, additional evaluation) and informing the participant about what to expect throughout the assessment process.
  • The competent CSHSP conducts or arranges for assessments to determine the needs, preferences, and capabilities of the participants using appropriate assessment tools and strategies, reviewing the process for inconsistencies, and making corrections as necessary.
  • The competent CSHSP discusses findings and recommendations with the participant in a clear and understandable manner, following up on results and reevaluating the findings as necessary.

Competency Area 4: Community and Service Networking The community support human service practitioner should be knowledgeable about the formal and informal supports available in his or her community and skilled in assisting the participant to identify and gain access to such supports.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP helps to identify the needs of the participant for community supports, working with the participant's informal support system, and assisting with, or initiating identified community connections.
  • The competent CSHSP researches, develops, and maintains information on community and other resources relevant to the needs of participants.
  • The competent SCHSP ensures participant access to needed community resources coordinating supports across agencies.
  • The competent CSHSP participates in outreach to potential participants.

Competency Area 5: Facilitation of Services The community support human service practitioner is knowledgeable about a range of participatory planning techniques and is skilled in implementing plans in a collaborative and expeditious manner.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP maintains collaborative professional relationships with the participant and all support team members (including family/friends), follows ethical standards of practice (e.g., confidentiality, informed consent, etc.), and recognizes his or her own personal limitations.
  • The competent CSHSP assists and/or facilitates the development of an individualized plan based on participant preferences, needs, and interests.
  • The competent CSHSP assists and/or facilitates the implementation of and individualized plan to achieve specific outcomes derived from participants preferences, needs and interests.
  • The competent CSHSP assists and/or facilitates the review of the achievement of individual participant outcomes.

Competency Area 6: Community Living Skills & Supports The community support human service practitioner has the ability to match specific supports and interventions to the unique needs of individual participants and recognizes the importance of friends, family and community relationships.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP assists the participant to meet his or her physical (e.g., health, grooming, toileting, eating) and personal management needs (e.g., human development, human sexuality), by teaching skills, providing supports, and building on individual strengths and capabilities.
  • The competent CSHSP assists the participant with household management (e.g., meal prep, laundry, cleaning, decorating) and with transportation needs to maximize his or her skills, abilities and independence.
  • The competent CSHSP assists with identifying, securing and using needed equipment (e.g., adaptive equipment) and therapies (e.g., physical, occupational and communication).
  • The competent CSHSP supports the participant in the development of friendships and other relationships.
  • The competent community based support worker assists the participant to recruit and train service providers as needed.

Competency Area 7: Education, Training & Self-Development The community support human service practitioner should be able to identify areas for self improvement, pursue necessary educational/training resources, and share knowledge with others.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP completes required training education/certification, continues professional development, and keeps abreast of relevant resources and information.
  • The competent CSHSP educates participants, co-workers and community members about issues by providing information and support and facilitating training.

Competency Area 8: Advocacy The community support human service practitioner should be knowledgeable about the diverse challenges facing participants (e.g. human rights, legal, administrative and financial) and should be able to identify and use effective advocacy strategies to overcome such challenges.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP and the participant identify advocacy issues by gathering information, reviewing and analyzing all aspects of the problem.
  • The competent CSHSP has current knowledge of laws, services, and community resources to assist and educate participants to secure needed supports.
  • The competent CSHSP facilitates, assists, and/or represents the participant when there are barriers to his or her service needs and lobbies decision makers when appropriate to overcome barriers to services.
  • The competent CSHSP interacts with and educates community members and organizations (e.g., employer, landlord, civic organization) when relevant to participant's needs or services.

Competency Area 9: Vocational, Educational & Career Support The community based support worker should be knowledgeable about the career and education related concerns of the participant and should be able to mobilize the resources and support necessary to assist the participant to reach his or her goals.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP explores with the participant his/her vocational interests and aptitudes, assists in preparing for job or school entry, and reviews opportunities for continued career growth.
  • The competent CSHSP assists the participant in identifying job/training opportunities and marketing his/her capabilities and services.
  • The competent CSHSP collaborates with employers and school personnel to support the participant, adapting the environment, and providing job retention supports.

Competency Area 10: Crisis Intervention The community support human service practitioner should be knowledgeable about crisis prevention, intervention and resolution techniques and should match such techniques to particular circumstances and individuals.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP identifies the crisis, defuses the situation, evaluates and determines and intervention strategy and contacts necessary supports.
  • The competent CSHSP continues to monitor crisis situations, discussing the incident with authorized staff and participant(s), adjusting supports and the environment, and complying with regulations for reporting.

Competency Area 11: Organization Participation The community based support worker is familiar with the mission and practices of the support organization and participates in the life of the organization.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP contributes to program evaluations, and helps to set organizational priorities to ensure quality.
  • The competent CSHSP incorporates sensitivity to cultural, religious, racial, disability, and gender issues into daily practices and interactions.
  • The competent CSHSP provides and accepts co-worker support, participating in supportive supervision, performance evaluation, and contributing to the screening of potential employees.
  • The competent CSHSP provides input into budget priorities, identifying ways to provide services in a more cost-beneficial manner.

Competency Area 12: Documentation The community based support worker is aware of the requirements for documentation in his or her organization and is able to manage these requirements efficiently.

Skill Standards:

  • The competent CSHSP maintains accurate records, collecting, compiling and evaluating data, and submitting records to appropriate sources in a timely fashion.
  • The competent CSHSP maintains standards of confidentiality and ethical practice.
  • The competent CSHSP learns and remains current with appropriate documentation systems, setting priorities and developing a system to manage documentation.

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