The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and The State University of New York (SUNY) joined with SUNY Morrisville and developmental disabilities service provider ACHIEVE today to announce that the college’s direct support microcredential program in the field of developmental disabilities is accepting spring enrollment for this successful program, which will soon graduate 35 students into the field.
The SUNY Microcredential program, a partnership between The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, SUNY and OPWDD, provides training that leads to national certification in the distinct skills and competencies required of today’s direct support professionals. The Direct Support Professional microcredentialing opportunity is being offered at 13 participating SUNY colleges throughout the state. SUNY Morrisville will graduate 35 direct support professionals from the first two cohorts of students from its Norwich Campus in December. SUNY Morrisville is actively recruiting for next spring’s cohort of students.
OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “Direct Support Professionals who are enrolled in the program report feeling empowered to make decisions and employ best practices on the job, while preparing to take the next steps in their careers. It’s exciting to see the Microcredential program gaining momentum at SUNY campuses statewide and OPWDD appreciates the commitment from SUNY and our provider partners to make this endeavor a success. We thank SUNY Morrisville for their enthusiasm and support of the program will look forward to welcoming more direct support professionals to this very important field.”
SUNY Morrisville President Dr. David E. Rogers added, “As all SUNY colleges explore developing creative programs to address critical workforce shortages, SUNY Morrisville is proud to offer this Direct Support Professional microcredential. These stackable credentials are in high demand as a method to promote both enhanced professionalism and career opportunities in the human services field. Our thanks go out both to our colleagues at ACHIEVE and Commissioner Neifeld at OPWDD. She and her team have been supportive partners in advancing this credential across SUNY.”
Supported through $5 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the microcredential program aims to assist direct support staff already working in the profession and those new to the developmental disabilities field in earning college credits that meet requirements for certification from The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. Students will be able to secure national certification and college credit toward a certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree. The grant program covers tuition, certification, fees, books and student support, and students can earn a one-time $750 stipend. Each participating SUNY campus is working with an OPWDD-operated or affiliated provider partner to help upskill incumbent workers or to provide internships for those new to the field.
The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals President/Chief Executive Officer Joseph M. Macbeth emphasizes the importance of this initiative. “OPWDD and the SUNY system have seized an opportunity to build a pipeline for prospective direct support professionals to gain the complex knowledge needed to be an effective practitioner, while also offering incumbent direct support professionals an opportunity to earn a college degree. It’s this kind of innovation that our field needs to finally address the decades-long challenges facing the disability community. Due to the potential of this bold initiative, other states are beginning to blend the resources from higher education, state developmental disability offices and the National Alliance for Direct Support Professional’s E-Badge Academy to provide national certification for the demonstration of direct support knowledge, skills and values.”
Enrolled students not yet working in the developmental disabilities field will be offered work-based learning opportunities with OPWDD or OPWDD-certified service providers. In addition, the Regional Centers for Workforce Transformation—the state's leading resource and support system for OPWDD provider agencies and support professionals—will offer training, coaching and mentoring supports to providers participating in the program.
These microcredential programs build on Governor Kathy Hochul's efforts to expand the direct service professional workforce and address worker shortages. Last fall, OPWDD entered a three-year, $10-million partnership with NADSP to offer three levels of credentialing for direct support professionals and frontline supervisor certification through its E-Badge Academy.
"The Direct Support Professional microcredentials are in high demand as a method towards the professionalization of the direct support professional position within the human services field,” said Julanne Burton, associate professor of social science and coordinator of the Human Services Program and the Human Services Institute. “Given that our agency partner, ACHIEVE, has programs across Chenango, Broome and Otsego counties, this gives SUNY Morrisville the opportunity to lead the effort to professionalize the Direct Support Professional role throughout the Southern Tier region.”
“ACHIEVE is excited and thrilled to be a part of this partnership between SUNY Morrisville and OPWDD,” said Amy Howard, ACHIEVE Chief Executive Officer. “This microcredentialing program will only further elevate the quality of services and supports provided by these 35 dedicated Direct Support Professionals, significantly enhancing the meaningful care they’ll provide across our organization on a daily basis.”
About SUNY’s Microcredential Program
This academic year, SUNY will offer nearly 700 microcredentials at 51 of its 64 campuses. Microcredentials are smaller, academic- and skills-focused credentials that can be completed in months, not years. SUNY’s program is designed to provide earners with immediate workforce-ready skills, knowledge, and experience, while also providing a pathway to additional credentials, certificates and degrees. Recognized with the inaugural Business Council of New York State Workforce Innovation Award in Higher Education, SUNY microcredentials increase access to higher education by providing another pathway for New Yorkers to earn the credentials they need to meet their academic and career goals, all while collaboratively meeting the needs of New York businesses and industry.