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The Direct Support Certificate is a program initiated by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) in partnership with the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office. It is an educational program especially designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of direct support workers in DDS settings.

This College-Approved certificate consists of 22 college level credits. Major topics include the organization and history of the social welfare system, the dynamics and skills of effective group work, effective oral and written communication, interpersonal relations and supportive counseling skills, and work site certification. National Skills Standards for Human Service Workers will be integrated into the curriculum. The certificate is designed to strengthen writing, problem solving, and critical thinking skills by utilizing reading assignments and discussions of daily experiences, challenges and concerns of direct support workers.

Direct support workers who are employed at an agency under contract with DDS, with a GED or high school diploma, and who have the support of their employer, are eligible to apply. Participants are required to take the community college placement assessment and demonstrate college-level skills in reading and writing. Applicants are accepted into the program on an ongoing basis.

The certificate program is a special opportunity for direct support workers to attend college courses as a group and to learn and practice competencies and skills that are important to their daily work. In addition, the credits earned for the certificate can be applied towards an Associate degree program and later transferred to a Bachelor degree.