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Education Archive

Direct Support Professionals: Perspectives and Innovations from the Field

  • Dates: 07 – 07 Sep, 2012
This webinar was co-sponsored with ANCOR, the American Network of Community Options and Resources.

Date: September 7, 2012
Time: 1:00-2:00pm Eastern

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The demand for a quality direct support workforce is increasing dramatically.  People with disabilities, families, and organizations are faced with new challenges related to the recruitment and retention of these workers that play a critical role in the lives of people using supports.  Experts across sectors have developed strategies and practices for how to improve hiring, training, and recognition practices while enhancing the quality of supports provided.  The perspectives of a national expert, a Direct Support Professional, and a Moving Mountains award winning organization will be blended throughout this presentation to demonstrate the movement from research and recommendations to reality.  Nationally recognized strategies for addressing the workforce crisis will be examined.  The voice from a Direct Support Professional will be heard as she shares her passion for working on the frontline and how her organization has supported her and the work she does through professional development opportunities.  A representative from the Moving Mountains Award winning organization will wrap things up by discussing the importance of competency driven training and collaboration. 



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Lori Sedlezky, MSW is the Director of Knowledge Translation at the Research and Training Center on Community Living, Institute on Community Integration. Her work focuses on the workforce development strategies of recruitment, selection, training and retention of direct support professionals. Lori provides technical assistance to numerous states and regional entities on the training, development and promotion of the direct support profession, as well as the analysis and application of core competencies across the human service sector. Lori has developed numerous trainings and curricula, including publications to address cultural competency of direct support professionals, organizational strategies for supporting the immigrant workforce, and frontline supervisor competencies.  Lori is part of the curriculum development team of on-line training for the College of Direct Support. She has served as lead author, reviewer, and coordinator of development on numerous courses. Lori has an extensive background in the field of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She has worked in leadership positions in both residential and vocational services, and specializes in the area of supports and services to older adults. During her tenure at Arc Greater Twin Cities, Lori developed and implemented the Lifetime Assistance Program, an innovative model of support to families and aging caregivers. Lori has co-authored numerous papers and book chapters as well presented on various topics related to intellectual and developmental disabilities and workforce development at national and state conferences.

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Lynda DiPressi  of New Horizons Resources, Inc. in Pleasant Valley, New York, was recently awarded ANCOR’s 2012 Direct Support Professional of the Year. This award is given to  acknowledge the commitment of the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who work to ensure community inclusion and full participation for hundreds of thousands of Americans with disabilities. Ms. DiPressi was named the national recipient among 212 nominations submitted for the competition.  Lynda supports three women with disabilities in their home and says that she enjoys working with them so much that it doesn’t feel like she is working when she’s there. "These ladies I support are very independent, and I am there to teach and support them in both daily living skills and the things that are important to them, such as keeping up with their reading skills, money management and communicating with family members," DiPressi says.  While working full-time, DiPressi spent two years earning her DSP-Certified status from the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. She also serves on a statewide task force, chaired by the New York Commissioner of the Office for People with Disabilities, which focuses on system-wide organizational culture change.

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Lynn Rivas, Ph.D. is the co-executive director of the Consumer Directed Services Network, an organization dedicated to training and empowering workers and supporting the rights of people with developmental disabilities to have choice and opportunity, as well as, to live integrated lives in the community. Dr. Rivas received her Ph.D. in 2007 from the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied the relationship between The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Independent Living Movement.  Dr. Rivas' relevant publications include: "Invisible Labors: Caring for the Independent Person" and "A Significant Alliance: The Independent Living Movement, The Service Employees International Union and the Establishment of the First Public Authorities in California" published by the World Institute on Disability.   Her most recent work includes collaboration with 2012 Moving Mountains Award winners, The East Bay Innovations/SEIU Labor/Management Training and Career Ladder Development Committee.  This award winning project incorporated competency-based career pathways aimed at improving the quality of a DSP’s work, increase confidence and job satisfaction, qualify them for promotion, and ultimately reduce turnover.