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Children’s Aid and Family Services: Recognizing DSPs Throughout The Year

Submitted By: Marianne Feliciano and Aisha Pellot, Children’s Aid and Family Services

The Appreciation Corner is a monthly newsletter distributed by Children’s Aid and Family Services. It is distributed to all staff highlighting the Direct Support Professionals (DSP) who performed above and beyond for that month. The DSPs are selected by their Residential Managers. Out of all the nominees for the month, one DSP is randomly selected and becomes the winner of the month, receiving a $25.00 prize. All of the staff members that have been nominated, regardless of if they won the prize, are showcased in our newsletter.

Impact Of The Program

This program gives everyone something to look forward to on a monthly basis. Residential Managers are proud to nominate staff members for everyone to acknowledge. Employees have said that when they receive the email each month, they look to see if any of their fellow coworkers and friends have been nominated. We believe this encourages a positive work atmosphere of recognition.

“I was thrilled to be mentioned in our Children’s Aid and Family Services’ Appreciation Corner. Seeing my name there made me feel that the efforts I make are noticed.”

Melinda K., Direct Support Professional, Children’s Aid and Family Services

This program has impacted DSPs in a positive way by encouraging them in their work. It shows that administration is taking the time to notice their dedication on the front lines and that all of their efforts are appreciated frequently. Since this program was launched in November 2022, DSPs have expressed gratitude and excitement for their recognition.

Steps To Implement A Similar DSP Program

Other organizations can replicate our efforts by creating their own version of a newsletter to showcase their employees on a monthly basis. If they cannot create a newsletter, they can request that managers and supervisors nominate a DSP that they believe has shown exceptional work for the month and broadcast this using an email template.

These are the steps that Children’s Aid and Family Services took to roll out the Appreciation Corner newsletter:

  1. Create a newsletter template.
  2. Email all residential managers to send in their monthly nominees by end of month.
  3. Input all nominee names into a name generator to determine the winner.
  4. Add all nominees into monthly newsletter.
  5. Distribute finalized newsletter to all staff.

A smaller organization may not have the funds or budget to provide a gift card as a prize each month. The beauty of this initiative is that a prize can be anything. However, if funds and budget do not allow a prize, simply recognizing DSPs in a public forum such as an email, can go a long way.

“Personally, being featured in the Appreciation Corner showed me that staff are recognized by administration. It feels good knowing that someone knows my name.”

Antonio C., Direct Support Professional, Children’s Aid and Family Services

A challenge may be not having a distribution list set by an organization’s information technology department specifically for Direct Support Professionals and their respective supervisors. If this is the case, requesting a comprehensive staff list from each residential manager, or human resources, is a great place to start building your own newsletter distribution list.

If an organization does not have one person to develop an appreciation newsletter from scratch, Microsoft Word has templates where the organization can really make it their own with the organization’s logo, language, etc.

About Children’s Aid and Family Services

Children’s Aid and Family Services is one of northern New Jersey’s leading nonprofit providers of services that protect and support vulnerable children, adults, and families. The agency is focused on meeting ever-evolving social needs by expanding programs to help members of the community live their best lives.

Organizational logo for Children's Aid and Family Services

Children’s Aid and Family Services strengthens families and empowers individuals – children and adults alike – to reach their fullest potential. The organization provides high-quality, innovative services to children, adults, and their families that advance social, educational, and emotional development and wellbeing.

2022 National DSP Recognition Week

For 2022 National DSP Recognition Week, CQL and NADSP are sharing specific organization-wide initiatives that lift up and bolster direct support professionals (DSPs) throughout the entire year. These include significant, long-lasting, and meaningful actions that have far-reaching effects on DSPs. By sharing these initiatives, other human service providers can both learn about and replicate these efforts to build up the DSP workforce.

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Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.