May 3, 2024

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and Jefferson Community College Announce Direct Support Professional Microcredential Program and Opportunities for Fall Enrollment

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and Jefferson Community College Announce Direct Support Professional Microcredential Program and Opportunities for Fall Enrollment
Partnership Offers Microcredentials for Current and Aspiring Direct Support Professionals at SUNY Campuses Statewide

Watertown, NY (May 3, 2024) – The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and The State University of New York (SUNY) joined with Jefferson Community College and developmental disabilities service providers The Arc Jefferson-St. Lawrence and Disabled Persons Action Organization (DPAO) today to announce that enrollment is open for the second cohort of the college’s direct support professional microcredential program in the field of developmental disabilities. 21 students from the first cohort are expected to graduate in the Fall of 2024.

The SUNY Microcredential program, a partnership between The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, SUNY and OPWDD, provides training that leads to national certification in the distinct skills and competencies required of today’s direct support professionals. The Direct Support Professional microcredentialing opportunity is being offered at 19 participating SUNY colleges throughout the state. Direct Support Professionals who are enrolled in the program report feeling empowered to make decisions and employ best practices on the job, while preparing to take the next steps in their careers.

NYS OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “We know that the SUNY Microcredentialing Program is providing the direct support workforce with a true professional career path in which to sharpen skills, think creatively and really examine how to best support people with developmental disabilities while advancing their careers. I am thrilled with the success of this program and am grateful for our partnership with SUNY, NADSP and the providers who are championing this effort to elevate the status of direct support professionals who deserve this recognition and investment. Thank you to Jefferson Community College, The Arc Jefferson-St. Lawrence and Disabled Persons Action Organization for helping to engage and support this vital workforce that is truly changing the lives of people with developmental disabilities every day.”

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “SUNY has seen significant demand for the Direct Support Professionals microcredential program. Earlier this year, we expanded the program so that more students, especially those working in the field, have the opportunity to grow in their careers and provide critical care to New Yorkers who need it. It's exciting to see that because of the success of the program, the doors are opening for more DSPs at Jefferson Community College."

Jefferson Community College President Dan Dupee added, “We are pleased to see strategic partnerships like these coming together to provide much-needed support to students and to our region’s workforce. Working with SUNY on the deployment of microcredentials as an important pathway to career advancement or entry to a new career field is critical to helping students take incremental and affordable steps in achieving their career goals. The support from OPWDD is a direct and immediate benefit to students, which helps the College work quickly to provide a pipeline of skilled employees into this high demand field to the benefit of area service providers like the Arc, Disabled Persons Action Organization and Sunmount.”

Supported through over $50 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the microcredential program aims to assist direct support staff already working in the profession and those new to the developmental disabilities field in earning college credits that meet requirements for certification from The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. Students will be able to secure national certification and college credit toward a certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree. The grant program covers tuition, certification, fees, books and student support, and students can earn a one-time $750 stipend. Each participating SUNY campus is working with an OPWDD-operated or affiliated provider partner to help upskill incumbent workers or to provide internships for those new to the field.

Enrolled students not yet working in the developmental disabilities field will be offered work-based learning opportunities with OPWDD or OPWDD-certified service providers.

These microcredential programs build on Governor Kathy Hochul's efforts to expand the direct service professional workforce and address worker shortages.


About SUNY’s Microcredential Program

This academic year, SUNY will offer nearly 700 microcredentials at 51 of its 64 campuses. Microcredentials are smaller, academic- and skills-focused credentials that can be completed in months, not years. SUNY’s program is designed to provide earners with immediate workforce-ready skills, knowledge, and experience, while also providing a pathway to additional credentials, certificates and degrees. Recognized with the inaugural Business Council of New York State Workforce Innovation Award in Higher Education, SUNY microcredentials increase access to higher education by providing another pathway for New Yorkers to earn the credentials they need to meet their academic and career goals, all while collaboratively meeting the needs of New York businesses and industry.



The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) provides high-quality person-centered supports and services to people with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders and other neurological impairments. OPWDD provides services directly and through a network of over 600 not-for-profit providers. OPWDD’s mission is to help people with developmental disabilities live richer lives that include meaningful relationships, good health, personal growth, and a home within their community. For more information, visit or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


About The State University of New York

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit


About Jefferson Community College Established on November 7, 1961, Jefferson Community College was the area’s first institution of higher education. Supervised by the State University of New York (SUNY), Jefferson offers 50+ associate degrees, certificates and microcredentials for career preparation or transfer; local access to bachelor’s and advanced degrees through partner institutions; lifelong learning through workshops and seminars; business and industry training; and provides community-based research and a forum for the productive discussion of ideas and issues of significance to the community through the Center for Community Studies. Jefferson is accredited by the Middle States Association and currently serves approximately 2,500 students, including a significant number of service members and their families.