FSC Celebrates Inaugural DSP Microcredential Cohort

Successful Partnership with NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities

Farmingdale State College (FSC) this week celebrated the outstanding success of its new Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Microcredential Program. 

FSC President John S. Nader, PhD, and FSC Senior Vice President and Provost Laura Joseph, EdD, were joined by The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), The State University of New York (SUNY), Office of Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre, and local developmental disabilities service providers Community Mainstreaming Associates, Developmental Disabilities Institute, Epic Long Island, Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Life's WORC, The Center for Developmental Disabilities, Inc., and Viability, to recognize the program’s first cohort of 26 students, who are graduating this month. Enrollment for a second cohort is happening now.

“Farmingdale State College is honored to be part of this joint initiative with OPWDD and SUNY to provide an educational opportunity for students to become Direct Support Professionals,” said Joseph. “The funding has allowed us to develop the curriculum for the Direct Support Professional I and II credential as well as the wrap-around support needed to help students complete the course of study. Students enrolled in the DSP I and II Microcredentials are frontline workers and serve as the backbone of the human services industry. These microcredentials empower these professionals and further legitimize the profession. Dr. Michael Figuccio, Chair of the Psychology Department, has been instrumental in launching this program with almost 30 students in the first cohort,” she added.

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 Microcredential opportunity is being offered at 19 participating SUNY colleges throughout the state. 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.

“SUNY is committed to increasing upward mobility for all New Yorkers and this program does just that,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. “The high demand for the Direct Support Professionals Microcredential Program shows that more individuals, whether working in the field already or not, want to provide vital care to New Yorkers in need, and want to improve their skills at doing so. The success of the program has opened up more opportunities for DSPs across SUNY, including at Farmingdale State College, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Supported through over $50 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. 

Enrolled students not yet working in the developmental disabilities field will be offered work-based learning opportunities with OPWDD or OPWDD-certified service providers. 

These programs build on Governor Kathy Hochul's efforts to expand the direct service professional workforce and address worker shortages.

“The response from DSPs who want to participate in this professional development opportunity has been tremendous and is a testament to what we know to be true – the field of direct support needs and deserves a career pathway that honors the skills and best practices that these professionals bring to their jobs every day,” said NYS OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld. “Thank you to our SUNY partner Farmingdale State, Chancellor King and the providers who are helping their employees to take these next steps in their career. New York State is a leader in this effort and DSPs who are earning credentials from the NADSP SUNY Microcredential Program should feel proud to be a part of this movement to professionalize the field.”

“This is truly a special and important job and I look forward to it every day,” said Taylor Erato, DSP I Microcredential student. “The rapports and relationships I have made with some of the people I support I will cherish forever. By me helping them grow and excel in life, it has helped me grow as well. I can’t wait to continue on with this program and get my DSP II.” 

Last Modified 6/21/24