Last fall, CSCL began offering employees an opportunity to register in the NADSP’s E-Badge Academy. It was developed out of employee’s requests for more professional development.

As the first Canadian member of the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals, the E-Badge Academy was a natural fit for CSCL and a way to provide staff with an opportunity to develop their skills. There’s not a lot of trainings available specific to our field so the NADSP has created this E-Badge Academy and it is absolutely specific to the work that we do. It aligns perfectly with CSCL’s Mission, Vision, and Values.

The badges are used to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and values that employees use every day, recognizing the professional   development that might otherwise go unacknowledged.

Through the online platform, registered employees can submit specific examples, experience, and education that highlights their achievements and contributions to human services. While the training is optional and completed outside of work time, CSCL is offering an incentive to employees for each level completed, with job title changing to reflect qualifications; from ‘Community Support Worker’ to ‘Direct Support Professional’, followed by a number reflecting the level of certification completed. There is also a financial award for each level completed.

Penny Goryk and Sandra Leitner were among the first CSCL employees to complete the first level of certification and spoke of the benefit they received from the experience. For Leitner, training reminded her that people come first “Everything I do is a person-centered approach.” When asked what surprised her about the training, Penny Goryk stated “When I reflected back on the things I’d learned about, it validated myself. I realized that I’d been applying the Code of Ethics more than I knew.” When asked if they would recommend the training, Leitner stated, “For sure!” Goryk who was the first employee to complete all three levels of the DSP training, added, “Reflection and education are so important. Training brings them together.”

Nicole Howard, said what surprised her the most about the training is it emphasized how much learning she has done over the past 13 years. Howard, who was the first to complete the Frontline Supervisor Badge, said that it teaches what it means to put the individual first. “Nowadays, it means so much more to be person-centered. When I started it was mostly goals. Now it’s around culture, sexuality, so many more layers.”