May 31, 2024

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and SUNY North Country Community College Celebrate the SUNY Direct Support Professional Microcredential Program and Opportunities for Fall Enrollment

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and SUNY North Country Community College Celebrate the SUNY Direct Support Professional Microcredential Program and Opportunities for Fall Enrollment

Program Available at 19 SUNY campuses Offers SUNY Microcredentials and National Accreditation Through the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals for Current and Aspiring Direct Support Professionals 

Saranac Lake, NY (May 31, 2024) –The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and The State University of New York (SUNY) joined with North Country Community College to recognize 41 students enrolled in the SUNY Direct Support Professional Microcredential Program. The first cohort of 25 students are expected to complete certification by this fall and another 19 students have just begun. Direct support professionals help people with developmental disabilities succeed with daily living tasks, achieve their goals and participate fully in their communities.

The SUNY DSP Microcredential program, a partnership between SUNY and OPWDD, provides up to three credit-bearing microcredentials focused on best practices in human services and supports completion of national certifications in the distinct skills and competencies required of today’s direct support professionals. The SUNY DSP Microcredential Program 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’re thrilled with the success of the SUNY DSP Microcredential Program and are excited by the difference it is making for DSPs and people with developmental disabilities. Our partnership with SUNY has opened doors for new DSPs to learn about the field and for existing DSPs to hone their skills. We appreciate the providers’ support and encouragement of staff who are committed to the program. This initiative to create a career path and professionalize the field of direct support has sparked a national movement and I am so proud that New York State’s DSPs are leading the way.”

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “The continued success of and demand for the Direct Support Professional Microcredential Program will allow more New Yorkers to gain upward mobility through this field while providing much-needed care for New Yorkers who need and deserve it. It's an honor to recognize the 41 students enrolled in North Country Community College's DSP program, and we look forward to seeing continued demand and growth in each region of our state."

CEO of The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals Joseph Macbeth said, “The direct support workforce crisis has been well-documented for decades. Direct support work is not easy and it’s certainly not a job that just anyone can do. It requires complex skills, adherence to ethical standards and impeccable judgment. Over the past eighteen months, OPWDD has worked closely with the SUNY system to address these challenges by developing a comprehensive microcredential initiative. Now, prospective and incumbent direct support professionals can achieve college credit, national certification and financial assistance as they learn and demonstrate their direct support skills. The leadership at SUNY and OPWDD in this area is commendable.”

Joe Keegan, President, North Country Community College said, “We are grateful to Chancellor John King and SUNY for their foresight and support regarding the SUNY Microcredential Program and to Commissioner Kerri Neifeld of the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) for their partnership in and support of the SUNY Direct Support Professional (DSP) Microcredential Program. It couldn’t be a more fitting choice for the College’s first microcredential. The DSP microcredential program incentivizes and supports students along a pathway to one of the region’s most critical professions, providing these students with education and skills to better support the people they serve.”

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 credit and 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 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 FacebookTwitter, 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 North Country Community College

Since 1967, North Country has helped more than 50,000 students find their paths to success. With our three unique Adirondack campus locations, expert instructors, online learning opportunities, and affordable degree programs, a world-class education is waiting for you. Whether you want to earn your associate degree, transfer to pursue a bachelor’s degree, or you’re looking to change careers, we're ready to help you reach higher and own your future.