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DSP University Graduates First Class

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Medina County Board of DD Partners with Medina County Career Center to Prepare Students for Meaningful Jobs 

On Thursday, April 11, the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) in partnership with the Medina County Career Center (MCCC) and the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (OADSP), was proud to recognize and celebrate the first class of students to graduate from the new Direct Support Professional University program – also known as DSP-U – at the Career Center.

“Each of this year’s graduates showed such a personal desire to make a positive impact on the lives of people with developmental differences,” said MCBDD Superintendent Stacey Maleckar. “To see the next generation of professionals, embrace, grow and learn about our field is truly inspiring. I expect to see great things from these graduates in the future.”

The DSP-U program gives MCCC students who enroll an opportunity to learn about a career in a field that is in desperate need of quality professional workers. It helps students learn how to provide services and daily support to help people with disabilities succeed in meeting their life goals and dreams. According to US Department of Labor statistics, direct service professionals are one of the most in-demand jobs in America and the need for qualified professionals to fill a large number of full-time jobs will only continue to increase over the next several years.

DSP-U is nationally recognized, and accredited in Ohio by the Department of Education, as a pathway to graduation. Students participating in the DSP-U program experience specialized training, on-site, hands-on internships, and the opportunity to earn their professional credentials while receiving credit toward high school graduation requirements. DSP-U offers those who complete the training a Certificate of Initial Proficiency (CIP) which requires the completion of 20 courses for a total of 60 classroom hours, in addition to a minimum of 100 internship hours. Upon completion of the program, the graduates already have the credentials they need to immediately apply for jobs as direct service professionals.

By aligning this project’s internships with existing direct service provider agencies in Medina such as Intervention for Peace and the MCBDD’s own Windfall School, the program created a win-win environment. Provider agencies now have access to a pool of qualified candidates who have already been specifically trained and certified. This will help address the existing direct support professional vacancy gap while increasing the quality of service providers available in Medina County.

“DSP-U is such a great opportunity to ignite a passion for the opportunities and rewards young adults can find in helping people with disabilities,” said Pam Wheeler, MCBDD Health Services Coordinator and the person responsible for bringing this program into Medina County. “Working over the last several months with these students, the teachers at the Career Center, and the staff of OADSP has been a great experience and I am already looking forward to helping those involved in next year’s program find the same success and dedication for helping people with disabilities.”

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