College of Direct Support


The Missouri College of Direct Support (MoCDS) is a partnership of agencies that have joined together to create a training and certification program for direct support workers in Missouri. Currently 32 provider agencies statewide have agreed to participate in piloting the College of Direct Support internet-based training curriculum for people in direct support roles (DSPs). During the pilot phase, the partners will work to create a Direct Support Professional credentialing system that would link the MoCDS competency-based training with improved compensation packages for DSPs and address recruitment and retention needs.

  • Project Contact Robert Doljanac, 573.884.2768
  • Funding Source – Missouri Real Choices Systems Change Grant; Missouri Division of MRDD; County Boards (15); Service Providers (32); UMKC Institute for Human Development; Missouri Planning Council for DD; Missouri AAIDD

Core Functions

Applied Research

The Institute for Human Development is conducting an evaluation on the pilot phase of the Mo College of Direct Support training program. The purpose is to provide insight to funding partners on the effectiveness, feasibility, and impact of the internet-based curriculum.

Community Services and Supports

The Institute is taking the lead in recruiting agency participation, facilitating dialogues among agencies regarding the impact of DSP credentialing on career development and improvement in services.

Information Dissemination

The MoCDS curriculum is a validated, competency-based curriculum. Additionally, Missouri has added annotations detailing specific Missouri regulations essential to DSP’s working in Missouri.

Interdisciplinary Personnel Preparation

The Institute is facilitating the development of the credentialing system and supporting learner participation in the online curriculum.

Program Need and Historical Context

The supply of DSPs to provide supports and services for people with developmental disabilities is below acceptable levels due to (a) competition for workers across other industries, (b) the low reimbursement for direct service providers and correspondingly (c) high rates of turnover. Thus, Missouri stakeholders identified a significant need for additional training regarding serving people with more complex medical and behavior support needs.

Consumer and Community Involvement

Missouri agencies providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities are involved in all aspects of this pilot project: advisory, recruitment, implementation, supporting DSP participation, and mentoring.

Significant Project Activities and Outcomes

  • Improvement in the knowledge, skills, and competencies of DSPs
  • Improvement in the retention rate of DSPs
  • Long-term career development for DSPs, including a career ladder
  • Development of a statewide credentialing and certification process
  • Establishment of a plan for long-term sustainability
  • Ultimately, an improvement in the quality of life experienced by people with developmental disabilities

Institute’s Role

  • Evaluation of pilot outcomes
  • Leadership in development of a DSP credentialing system and CEUs
  • Development of companion UMKC courses for college credit and CEUs
  • Coordination of recruitment and mentoring
  • Support DSP participation


  • DSP certificate of completion
  • DSP credential
  • DSP college courses
  • Missouri annotations to the MoCDS curriculum



A statewide recognized DSP credential will support DSP career development.


Direct Support Professional increase knowledge and skills essential for providing quality care for individuals with disabilities.


A collaborative comprised of the Institute, Missouri agencies, and state departments, have supplemented the federal CMS grant with contributions of funding, both direct and indirect, to this pilot project.