CMS Core Competencies 

DirectCourse content aligns with The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) Core Competencies for the Direct Service Workforce, a common set of competencies across community-based long-term services and supports (LTSS) sectors such as: 

  • Aging 
  • Behavioral health (including mental health and substance use) 
  • Intellectual and developmental disabilities,  
  • Physical disabilities 

The 12 CMS Core Competencies for the Direct Service Workforce are:

  1. Communication
  2. Person-Centered Practices
  3. Evaluation and Observation
  4. Crisis Prevention and Intervention
  5. Safety
  6. Professionalism and Ethics
  7. Empowerment and Advocacy
  8. Health and Wellness
  9. Community Living Skills and Support
  10. Community Inclusion and Networking
  11. Cultural Competency
  12. Education, Training, and Self-Development

The DirectCourse content is designed to help you meet these core competency areas and is acknowledged by CMS in meeting their DSW core competency standards acknowledgement.

NADSP Core Competencies 

In addition to addressing the CMS Competencies, our courses are built on a set of 15 core competencies approved by the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).  These competencies are based on the Community Support Skills Standards that were created to define the essence of this very important work.  They form the foundation of our coursework.  Below is a listing of the NADSP Core competencies; to read more detail, including the Skill Statements associated with each Competency, go the NADSP Resource Page.  

Area 1: Participant Empowerment 

The Direct Support Professional enhances the ability of the participant to lead a self-determining life by providing the support and information necessary to build self-esteem, and assertiveness; and to make decisions. 

Area 2: Communication 

The Direct Support Professional should be knowledgeable about the range of effective communication strategies and skills necessary to establish a collaborative relationship with the participant. 

Area 3: Assessment 

The Direct Support Professional should be knowledgeable about formal and informal assessment practices in order to respond to the needs, desires and interests of the participants. 

Area 4: Community and Service Networking 

The Direct Support Professional should be knowledgeable about the formal and informal supports available in his or her community and skilled in assisting the participant to identify and gain access to such supports. 

Area 5: Facilitation of Services 

The Direct Support Professional is knowledgeable about a range of participatory planning techniques and is skilled in implementing plans in a collaborative and expeditious manner. 

Area 6: Community Living Skills & Supports 

The direct support professional has the ability to match specific supports and interventions to the unique needs of individual participants and recognizes the importance of friends, family, and community relationships. 

Area 7: Education, Training & Self-Development 

The direct support professional should be able to identify areas for self-improvement, pursue necessary educational/training resources, and share knowledge with others. 

Area 8: Advocacy 

The direct support professional should be knowledgeable about the diverse challenges facing participants (e.g., human rights, legal, administrative, and financial) and should be able to identify and use effective advocacy strategies to overcome such challenges. 

Area 9: Vocational, Educational & Career Support 

The direct support professional should be knowledgeable about the career- and education-related concerns of the participant and should be able to mobilize the resources and support necessary to assist the participant to reach his or her goals. 

Area 10: Crisis Prevention and Intervention 

The direct support professional should be knowledgeable about crisis prevention, intervention and resolution techniques and should match such techniques to particular circumstances and individuals. 

Area 11: Organizational Participation 

The direct support professional is familiar with the mission and practices of the support organization and participates in the life of the organization. 

Area 12: Documentation 

The direct support professional is aware of the requirements for documentation in his or her organization and is able to manage these requirements efficiently. 

Area 13: Building and Maintaining Friendships and Relationships 

Support the participant in the development of friendships and other relationships. 

Area 14: Provide Person-Centered Supports 

Facilitates what is important to the person, which requires continual listening and learning in alliance with the person, their family, and friends. 

Area 15: Supporting Health and Wellness 

Promotes the health and wellness of all consumers. 

APSE Competencies 

Looking to become a Certified Employment Support Professional™?  The courses within College of Employment Services (CES) can help you pass your CESP™ exam!  The CES content has been created with the APSE CESP Competencies in mind.   

Below are the core areas that are included in the exam, as well as the applicable College of Employment Services Courses: 

  • Domain 1:  Application of Core Values and Principles to Practice (13-17%) 
  • Domain 2:  Individualized Assessment and Employment/Career Planning (23-29%) 
  • Domain 3:  Community Research and Job Development (19-25%) 
  • Domain 4:  Workplace and Related Supports (27-33%) 
  • Domain 5:  Ongoing Supports (6-8%) 

To read more about the APSE Universal Employment Competencies, see the publication by APSE on this topic.

ACRE Certification  

The Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE) approves the DirectCourse College of Employment Services (CES) curriculum as an integral part of their training process for employment professionals. 

The ACRE certification process allows employment professionals to document their accomplishments and education, develop professionally, and help improve industry standards. Using the College of Employment Services (CES) to become ACRE-certified involves 40 to 50 hours of instruction, along with the ACRE supplement, which adds about 20 hours of field assignments and instructor engagement. With this balance of self-instruction and hands-on learning, the new CES ACRE certification lets employment specialists grow professionally and provide the very best services to their clients. 

Additional competencies sets that the DirectCourse curricula follows include: 

  • NADD An Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Needs DSP Competency Standards. 
  • National Frontline Supervisor Competencies (NFSC)
  • LeadingAge Mid-Level Manager Core Competencies
  • Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA) Code of Ethics