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The Arc of Carroll County Lifts Up DSPs Through Project RISE

Submitted By: Rachel Uhden, The Arc Carroll County

The Arc Carroll County launched Project RISE (Recognize, Invest in, Support, Empower) in April 2021. Funded by the community through our Strengthening Relationships campaign, Project RISE is a Direct Support Professional (DSP) certification program that allows DSPs to grow their professional skills and earn nationally recognized industry credentials, as well as earn financial incentives along the way.
People receiving supports from certified DSPs will have the advantage of partnering with highly trained professionals committed to supporting them using the ethical and effective interventions that they have mastered. It is a win-win for everyone!

Impact Of The Program

This program has benefited our organization as whole in regard to retention, morale, and skills. Based on the incentives and skills that have been gained through this program, we have seen a rise in retention of our employees. Our employees give this program great praise and encourage their colleagues to apply for the next class and help them once they are in the program. It is truly amazing to see.

“Project RISE is truly beneficial for any DSP and I highly recommend the program. The training and the competency questions really made me examine how I provide support. I continue to use what I have learned, even nearly a year later.”

Claudine S., Direct Support Professional, The Arc Carroll County

Employees who have entered this program love it! It has really made them take a closer look at the support they are giving to people by looking back on past experiences and the skills they learn – using them to improve the support they provide.

Steps To Implement A Similar DSP Program

I feel every organization could benefit from a program like this one and all employees would appreciate a company that is investing in them and bettering their skills.

“Completing Project RISE is a demonstration of my commitment to the Arc and the individuals we serve. The Arc is giving me the chance to grow as an employee and that is something I am grateful for.”

Mariel R., Compliance Specialist, The Arc Carroll County

Here are the specific steps we took to implement our program:

  1. Developed the ‘Strengthening Relationships Campaign’ for funding.
  2. Distributed announcement (flyers, emails, online posting).
  3. Sent out the application.
  4. Continued to promote program while receiving applicants.
  5. Recruited mentors for the participants.
  6. Selected participants based on requirements being met.
  7. Held a kick-off meeting to discuss specifics of program, welcoming participants to the class and letting them know what was expected.
  8. Continued to motivate and support participants as they make their way through the program. We have a Project RISE Community group so those participating can encourage each other.
  9. Hosted award ceremonies each time a new level is met by participants.
Two employees from The Arc Carroll County pose for a picture. One of the employees is holding a certificate and a gift after recently achieving NADSP Certification.

One of the challenges we faced involved just ‘getting the word out’ and explaining the benefits and incentives of the program. It was a slow start to motivating people to apply, but once they did and the word got around applications came flooding in!

About The Arc Carroll County

The Arc Carroll County was founded in 1955 by a small group of parents of children with developmental disabilities. At that time, these children were excluded from public education and there were no structured social, recreational, or educational activities.

This group of parents was committed to forming a community-based system to provide necessary services for their children. In that first year, special education programs were established in the basement of the Davis Library on Main Street in Westminster and in the Mount Airy American Legion.

Organizational logo for The Arc Carroll County

Since that time, The Arc has advocated for and worked to provide support to people with developmental disabilities and their families. Today, The Arc is one of Carroll County’s largest non-profit organizations serving nearly 700 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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.