Needing Accessible Training — Statewide

The Direct Support and Direct Care workforce across Mississippi needed easy access to training that would help enhance their practical skills and professionalism while decreasing training costs and standardizing quality. Training and development programs can ensure disability support professionals are well equipped for their roles, driving a significant positive impact for them and the individuals living with disabilities that they support.

The Arc of Mississippi is an advocacy organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They took on this statewide task through administering DirectCourse as a learning platform that could help accomplish these goals, funded by providers using state medicaid funds.

DirectCourse is an online training curricula designed to educate and empower the direct service workforce to help others lead meaningful lives within their communities.

DirectCourse curriculum licensed:

  • College of Direct Support
  • College of Employment Services
  • College of Personal Assistance and Caregiving
  • College of Recovery and Community Inclusion
  • Person-Centered Counseling

Pilot Results

Lisa Burck is the statewide System Administrator for the DirectCourse training along with her team through the Arc of Mississippi. Lisa says about her initial thoughts on the impact she saw with DirectCourse online training,
“If we can’t get the people to the training, how do we get the training to the people? The College of Direct Support online curriculum became the obvious answer and we were one of their early adopters.”

“We started with an experiment to compare it to the existing training but quickly cancelled the control group as it was wrong not to expose them to the best training we’d ever seen.”

DirectCourse Impact

With training in place to ensure quality and consistency of care, this set the stage for enhancing workforce development.

The workforce began to think more highly of their role and this brought on a surge of professionalism. Feedback from those taking the training showed their newfound perceptions and approaches were making a positive difference in their interactions with the individuals supported.

Burck commented that she heard her favorite piece of feedback when a Direct Support Professional (DSP) called her one day and said,

“I thought I was taking this training to learn how to put my hands on people and what I learned was that I have to start taking my hands off people.”

This comment is so important because historically, people with disabilities have risked mistreatment with little ability to speak for or defend themselves.

Having training in place that can systematically support this positive shift in service culture is paramount to quality of life for people receiving services.

Statewide Adoption

Burck’s team at the Arc of Mississippi has assigned over 400,000 lessons across the state to approximately 70,000 various learners. She said, “We have used DirectCourse in Special Education classrooms, churches, protection and advocacy orgs (Disability Rights), CILS (Centers for Independent Living), doctoral students at Ole Miss and undergrad students at the University of Southern Miss. DirectCourse has also been a benchmark for raises for state employees and used for every HCBS waiver, home health, community mental health centers, and also families, and for self-advocacy training.”

Diverse and Customizable Curriculum

DirectCourse is proud to have the Arc of Mississippi as a partner for nearly 2 decades and a shining advocate to their communities across Mississippi.

Burck remarks about what makes DirectCourse successful statewide,

“Our (Mississippi) success is greater because we have access to all five DirectCourse curricula. We take lessons from all of them to customize the very best solution to a training need. For example, College of Recovery and Community Inclusion has a course on trauma. This amazing course would benefit every person engaged in supporting others, regardless if they experience IDD, are aging, have physical disabilities or mental illness.”

Arc of Mississippi Representation on our Review Boards

DirectCourse has a rich history of empowering the Direct Care workforce with trusted content, and that’s only possible with the dedicated members of our National Advisory Board and National Editorial Board.

Burck adds,

“As a member of the DirectCourse National Advisory Board, for which I am extremely thankful, I am constantly in awe of the mission and motives of DirectCourse. Clearly, the goals and objectives are focused on the advancement of services and support as well as the professionalism of Direct Support Professionals.”