Moving Mountains Best Practices
2004 Award Winner


An Initiative of the Ohio Alliance for Direct Support Professionals 
In response to the direct support workforce shortage, organizations in Ohio have created a career path by building a DSP credentialing pathway – PATHS (Professional Achievement through Training & Education in Human Services). PATHS incorporates the Community Support Skills Standards, the NADSP Code of Ethics and the Minnesota Front Line Supervisor Standards. Participants work with a skills mentor as they complete training and prepare portfolios to document their skills. Voluntary credentials are earned at four levels: Registration level, Certificate of Initial Proficiency (CIP), Certificate of Advanced Proficiency (CAP), and the Certificate of Specialized Skill and Knowledge. The registration level is achieved upon submission of a complete application packet by employees in good standing after 320 hours of employment, and 40 hours of instruction. The CIP is earned by people who have completed the Registration level, who complete an additional 1000 hours of experience, and 60 hours of related instruction, and who demonstrate mastery of CIP learner outcomes. The CAP can be earned by CIP awardees who complete an additional 1680 hours of experience, 116 hours of related instruction, and who demonstrate mastery of CAP learner outcomes. Curricula has been developed for the CIP and CAP. The Certificate of Specialized Skill and Knowledge is currently under design and construction. The PATHS credential is linked with the Department of Labor’s Direct Support Specialist apprenticeship standards. PATHS has worked closely with and received grant support from The Ohio State Apprenticeship Council.

PATHS was begun by the Ohio Private Resource Association (OPRA) working with the Ohio Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (currently chaired by David Pfriem). Planning began in 2001 with a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and the Ohio Department of MR/DD. The project was implemented in January of 2003 with pilots in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo. Expansion to a 4th pilot region will begin in January 2005. By 2006, the voluntary credential will be established throughout Ohio. 

Project management, fiscal coordination, grant writing and reporting are supported through OPRA and its Executive Director Maureen Corcoran with Amy Gerowitz serving as the Project Director. Technical, evaluation and educational expertise is provided by Marianne Taylor, Human Service Research Institute, and other consultants as needed. 

The Statewide Council oversees the project and approves candidates for credentialing. Regional Councils oversee local training and implementation. 

As of July 2004, 65 DSPs have received the Certificate of Initial Proficiency, and 44 Skills Mentors have received the Certificate of Advanced Proficiency. Thirty-two agencies and 2 family advocates have participated. Participating agencies have either increased wages from $.35 to $.50 per hour, provided $1000 bonuses or both to successful candidates. Several providers revised performance evaluations, created new supervisor positions, or promoted successful candidates based on their involvement in the PATHS project. Most CIP awardees want to continue to the CAP level. Among CIP candidates, 74% expect to stay with the same employer and 56% of these attribute this decision to the PATHS project. 

For more information, contact Amy Gerowitz, c/o OPRA, 30 Spruce Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Phone: 513-871-0835; Fax: 513-871-2135; E-mail Address: