Direct Support Professionals at SUNY Sullivan

SUNY Sullivan, in collaboration with the New York State Office for People with Disabilities (OPWDD), has unveiled a comprehensive microcredential program tailored specifically for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). This initiative is funded by a $32.8 million grant from SUNY and OPWDD, aimed at providing essential skills and opportunities to DSPs through a structured educational format.

“Our program is modeled after successful initiatives like SUNY Dutchess and is designed to make education accessible and practical for DSPs,” said Rosemarie Hanofee, the Interim VP for Academic & Student Affairs at SUNY Sullivan. 

The program, which encompasses three tiers of credentials, offers full funding for tuition, fees, and books, alongside a $750 incentive for each microcredential achieved with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Furthermore, students benefit from the inclusion of an academic coach and access to emergency funds to address personal barriers.

The DSP micro-credential program at SUNY Sullivan is organized into three levels, each consisting of three courses (9 credits), and is designed to prepare students for the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) e-badging. This prepares them for various competencies essential in their field:

DSP I: Focuses on Composition I, Introduction to Human Services, and General Psychology. Upon completion, students will demonstrate competencies in Crisis Intervention & Prevention, Health & Wellness, Person-centered Practices, and Safety.

DSP II: Includes courses such as Introduction to Developmental Disabilities, Developmental Psychology, and Introduction to Behavioral Disabilities. Graduates of this tier will have skills in Health & Wellness, Safety, Communication, Community Inclusion & Networking, and Community Living Skills & Supports.

DSP III: Comprises Professional Ethics in Human Services, Social Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology, culminating in a broad spectrum of competencies including Cultural Competency, Education, Training & Self-Development, Empowerment & Advocacy, and Professionalism & Ethics.

Hanofee said the program not only offers immediate educational benefits but also aligns with SUNY Sullivan’s longer-term degrees. “The credits from these microcredentials are stackable towards our Associate’s Degree in Human Services,” she said, indicating a pathway for DSPs to further advance their education and professional qualifications.

This program addresses critical workforce needs, providing a robust educational foundation for DSPs who are often underpaid and face high turnover rates. “Our aim is to enhance job satisfaction and career longevity for DSPs by equipping them with necessary skills and qualifications,” Hanofee emphasized.

Participation is initially expected from local agencies such as the Center for Discovery, New Hope, and Sullivan County ARC, with potential future expansion to individuals outside of these organizations. Plans are also in place to integrate internship opportunities for newcomers to the field, pending the success of the program’s initial phase.

All coursework completed within the three tiers of the microcredential program can be applied towards SUNY Sullivan’s Direct Support Practice one-year Certificate and the college’s two-year Associate of Science degree in Human Services. This layered educational structure provides numerous avenues for DSPs to escalate their qualifications and impact within the community. For more information, please visit

About SUNY SullivanSUNY Sullivan is the leader of innovative higher education and a catalyst for workforce development throughout the Sullivan Catskills and beyond. Our diverse community cultivates personal growth and professional advancement, preparing students for success in a sustainable and interconnected world. A forward-looking, top-tier community college in New York, SUNY Sullivan offers dozens of degree programs, certificates, and microcredentials for learners at all levels of their educational goals. We value critical inquiry and creativity while supporting our students in a culture of inclusion and respect.


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