FYI, the Institute on Community Integration Staff Newsletter

March 2015

Minnesota Offers Statewide DSP Training Through RTC’s College of Direct Support

For many individuals with disabilities, access to well-trained Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) is a crucial part of the supports they need to live the life of their choosing in their communities. Over a decade ago the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC) at the Institute on Community Integration developed the College of Direct Support (CDS), a competency-based online curriculum made available nationwide to train DSPs in the skills they need to do their jobs well. Now, the State of Minnesota has committed to offer CDS statewide at reduced or no cost to those involved in training and supervising DSPs.

Last year, the State of Minnesota entered into a contract with DirectCourse, the umbrella organization that houses CDS, to make the College of Direct Support curriculum available at no cost to all county, tribal and Department of Human Services (DHS) staff for training purposes. In doing so, the State has also made this valuable training tool available to providers as well – organizations that serve fewer than 10 people are able to use CDS absolutely free, and providers with more than 10 clients may access the curriculum at a greatly reduced cost. In addition, families and people with disabilities who direct their own supports can access CDS for free.

Nancy McCulloh of the RTC is the Lead Learning Administrator with DirectCourse Minnesota. She has been at the forefront of the effort to encourage the State to purchase the CDS contract and make it available to nearly everyone with an interest in Direct Support training. “Purchasing this contract creates an opportunity to use this training resource not only to meet some regulations for training staff,” Nancy explains, “but also to create a profession around the workforce, building careers and a culture of professionalism, which is part of what the DHS wants to support. The real goal of DirectCourse is to increase the skills of the Direct Support workforce, and when DSPs are trained, they become more confident and have the skills to support people in achieving their life goals and dreams.”

Nancy is now promoting the curriculum to thousands of families, individuals, and representatives from various agencies in Minnesota. “We visit with them about their needs, ask if they want to be able to choose and assign training to their learners, or have us manage this for them,” she says. “We try to look at their situations, customizing the support and training in order to meet their needs.”

Along with free or reduced-price CDS training, the State is also offering a free opportunity for up to 2,250 learners across DirectCourse’s other three colleges: the College of Employment Services, the College of Personal Assistance and Caregiving, and the College of Recovery and Community Inclusion. This means 750 learners for each curriculum can benefit from this excellent training resource. Minnesota licensed providers, agencies, and individuals and families are encouraged to sign up for this training. Every DirectCourse curriculum is crafted by nationally-recognized research and training centers selected for their expertise in identifying and explaining best practices for life in community across disabilities.

CDS is offered in partnership with Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information, through Direct Course, which is a suite of online curricula for people providing services to individuals with disabilities that includes CDS and other curricula developed at other universities. For more information on DirectCourse and CDS training opportunities in Minnesota, contact Nancy at 320-253-5661 or