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The Arc of Monroe Empowers DSPs Through Succession Development Classes

Submitted By: Melody Johnson, Director of Education & Professional Development, The Arc of Monroe

In 2019, The Arc of Monroe launched the Succession Development Classes program to help enrich the leadership qualities of direct support professionals (DSPs). This program promotes professional development and career advancement for DSPs. Succession Development Classes include 28 hours of coursework, which concludes with mentorship from a member of The Arc of Monroe’s Senior Leadership Team.

“I really liked how we were appointed a mentor to help us, which was great. I still refer back to our lessons we went over to continue to grow professionally.”

Aeiress, The Arc of Monroe

While everyone that completes the program is not guaranteed a future promotion, we have promoted most of all attendees within a year of completing the Succession Development Classes. Beyond just the potential career advancement, DSPs who take part in the program have experienced personal growth and professional development through a supportive environment.

The coursework covers topics such as:

  • The Why of Your Work
  • CEO of You, Inc.
  • Difficult Conversations
  • Building Teams
  • Knowing Your Limits
  • HR Processes
  • DSP and FLS Competencies
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Cultural Competency

Another component of the Succession Development Classes program is a 360 degree assessment where each participant receives feedback from their peers, educators, people they support, as well as supervisors. As mentioned earlier, at the conclusion of the program, each participant is aligned with a mentor from The Arc of Monroe’s Senior Leadership Team, who will support and encourage the participant’s growth for the following six months.

“After taking this course I’ve learned that constructive criticism is in fact a positive thing. It taught me to look in the mirror at myself and find room to grow.”

Sully, The Arc of Monroe

Inside The Succession Development Classes Program

The steps below list the process of the Succession Development Classes that The Arc of Monroe has implemented. Other organizations can use this as a guide in establishing a similar program.

  1. Curriculum Development (28 hours) delivered in sessions spanning 7 half-days
  2. DSPs and Assistant Managers/Team Leaders are eligible to apply
  3. Selection is made based on work performance and tenure requirements
  4. Classes delivered to the participants
  5. Course includes a 360 assessment from the attendees’ peers and supervisors
  6. Class facilitators present honest 360 feedback in a 1:1 format
  7. Attendees share areas of interest for future promotions
  8. Facilitators match each attendee with a mentor from the Senior Leadership Team based on interest and personality
  9. Mentors follow attendees for 6-9 months following conclusion of class

About The Arc of Monroe

The Arc of Monroe has been providing a variety of programs and services for over 1,400 people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families in the Rochester community for over 60 years. The Arc works to enhance the quality of life and self-esteem of people in our programs, providing them with meaningful social development, supported employment, residential community living and enrichment opportunities. The Arc is funded in part by the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. The Arc also receives funding from Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR).

2020 National DSP Recognition Week

For 2020 National DSP Recognition Week, NADSP and CQL 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. This is also an opportunity to highlight the programs your organization has developed to strengthen DSPs.

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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.