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TRENTON – Recognizing the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the College of Direct Support (CDS), Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez today announced that more than 1,500 direct support professionals in the state have taken courses to advance their skills in providing care to people with developmental disabilities.In September 2010, DHS announced the launch of this advanced internet-based educational program for professionals providing direct care to people receiving services through DHS’ Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). Implementation of the CDS began in November, 2010.
“It speaks volumes about the commitment these caregivers have to their clients that they are availing themselves of this innovative learning system,” said Commissioner Velez. “Care strategies are evolving constantly and now, with this sophisticated curriculum, staff can keep up with these advances, earn credits and expand their skill-set.”
The majority of DDD consumers live at home with their families – a situation made possible, in part, by the supplemental support of professional caregivers. For individuals who live in DDD-funded residential programs, or one of the seven state-operated developmental centers, direct support professionals are the primary caregivers.
“Whether they are providing supplemental assistance to family caregivers, or full-time care, direct support professionals assist people with developmental disabilities in living more independently and in achieving personal goals,” added Velez.
The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, in collaboration with DDD, provides coordination and technical assistance for the CDS. Staff members from 65 private provider agencies have participated in CDS to date and the seven state-operated developmental centers will be joining the program this month. There are approximately 30,000 full and part-time caregiving professionals in New Jersey serving DDD consumers.
In addition to the required pre-service trainings for all direct support professionals in CPR, First-Aid, Medication, Developmental Disabilities and Preventing Abuse and Neglect, the College of Direct Support offers courses on a variety of topics, such as Autism, Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Diabetes, Depression, Individual Rights and Choice, Employment Supports and Positive Behavioral Supports. 
“The challenge today for direct care professionals, is meeting a wide-variety of needs, in diverse environments,” said Commissioner Velez. “The College of Direct Support provides information that prepares staff members for caregiving, and advances the professionalism of this dedicated workforce.”
Direct support professionals assist people with developmental disabilities with daily tasks, including meal preparation; assistance in taking medications; bathing; dressing; and getting to work and activities.  Most are employees of private provider agencies under contract with DDD.
To learn more about the College of Direct Support in New Jersey, click here.
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