Learning and Earning

DSPs complete credentialing program

The hard work is paying off for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) seeking their credentials.

photo of two people smiling
Unity House Service Instructor William Vaughn-Russell (left) smiles with Arthur, a participant at Ithaca Day Hab.

Since local colleges launched free online DSP credentialing programs last fall, nine Unity House employees have earned the DSP-I credential. Three of them – Lea Church, Brittany Randolph and William Vaughn-Russell – continued their studies and have now earned their DSP-II credential.

The courses were challenging, but worthwhile, said Brittany, senior counselor at Hector Street IRA.

“I’ve learned a lot about not only my work, but also myself,” Brittany said. “I realized how much we make a difference and how much I truly have grown in my work.”

She and William, service instructor at Ithaca Day Hab, took the courses online through Tompkins Cortland Community College.

“I love learning new things, and I really enjoy school, but it’s expensive,” William said. “This was free, and it helps me with my job, so I took advantage of the opportunity.”

To earn her two credentials, Lea completed seven online Corning Community College courses and all of the required NADSP badge requirements.

“I’ve learned great ideas on how to make things more accessible in the classes I lead,” said Lea, service instructor at Auburn Day Hab. “I’ve been integrating it, and it’s working.”

House CEO Liz Smith said she was excited for the DSPs who earned credentials.

“You have demonstrated determination, dedication and a commitment to being the best DSP possible,” Liz wrote in an email to each of them. “You should feel proud of your accomplishment as I know it was not an easy process.”

Lea, Brittany and William said they dedicated between three and 10 hours per week to the coursework. All said they plan to continue their studies to earn their DSP-III credential later this year. Unlike similar nonprofits, Unity House provides a pay boost for employees who earn each DSP credential.

Unity House employees who have earned their DSP-I credential:

  • Brittany Randolph
  • Charity Williams
  • Heather Small
  • Lea Church
  • Manderin Darling
  • William Vaughn-Russell
  • Cynthia Goldrick
  • Victoria Cooley
  • Jennifer Owens

Unity House employees who have earned their DSP-II credential:

  • Lea Church
  • Brittany Randolph
  • William Vaughn-Russell