QDDP Certification Program:

Program History & Overview

Individuals serving as Qualified Developmental Disability Professionals (QDDPs, also known as QIDPs and case managers) frequently function as key staff members in the lives of persons with developmental disabilities, regardless of setting or community.  Historically, guidelines from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) require only that QDDPs have a degree in a human service field and one year experience, and many states have no additional training requirements beyond this minimal federal standard.  Often, providers and support organizations who recognize the need for training and professional growth often cannot offer educational opportunities since they lack sufficient funding or support for curriculum development.  Given their range of responsibilities, it is essential that QDDPs have knowledge of the best, most promising practices, as well as an understanding of the basic principles of quality services and supports.

The QDDP Certification Program fills this void and offers a nationally-recognized learning curriculum relevant across states and service populations. The program provides advanced training and knowledge acquisition for individuals working with persons with developmental disabilities. The signature credential is based on the values and principles of person-centered planning, self determination, positive behavior support, family support, individual responsibility, and the prevention of abuse and neglect.

NAQ developed the certification program content based on Minot State University’s training curriculum for QDDPs of developmental disability organizations throughout the state of North Dakota. In order to reach as many interested persons as possible, the program was designed as an on-line certification program. The program was beta-tested with participants from across the country, who work in different programs and settings including ICFs/MR and waiver programs.  Their feedback was used to adjust course content, streamline the application process, and test the procedures for evaluating portfolios. 

Certification Qualifications:  

Candidates must meet the following criteria:

  1. Meet the federal definition of QDDP.

  2. Have at least two years of qualifying experience. Those who have at least one year of experience working as a QDDP or who worked in a similar professional position may enroll in the program at any time. It should be noted that a student may be working towards the second year of required professional experience while enrolled in the program. Certification will not be awarded until the experience requirement is met.

  3. Become a member of the NAQ.

The Certification Process:  The NAQ Certification Program is an online, self-paced educational opportunity. Participants are given nine months to complete the program. Professionals applying for certification as a QDDP must complete seven “core” training elements that include: 

  1. Supporting Individuals with Disabilities in the Community - Training manual to help professionals understand how to support individuals with developmental disabilities. Includes information about working with individuals with mental retardation, epilepsy, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, blindness, limited verbal communication, challenging behavior and more. 
  2. Person Centered Planning - Provides a model for person-centered planning and the provision of person-centered supports; criteria for evaluating person-centered supports; and strategies for shifting power and control to people with developmental disabilities through the person-centered planning process. 
  3. Working with Families - Training manual designed to help direct support and other professionals work with families to ensure that people with disabilities exceed expectations and lead enviable lives. Content includes strategies for building connections, understanding family expectations, identifying roles and responsibilities, and collaborative problem solving. 
  4. Achieving Personal Outcomes. Implementing the Person Centered Plan - Describes the factors most frequently considered barriers to achieving goals and strategies to counter barriers. Describes basic strategies for achieving personal outcomes, effective instructional strategies for individuals with intellectual disabilities, the role of staff in facilitating learning. Explains task analysis, response chaining, shaping and other teaching techniques. Explains reinforcement techniques and other positive behavioral supports. 
  5. Guidelines for QDDPs - Describes guidelines for program development and monitoring; record keeping; behavior intervention; staff development; hiring, recruiting, and retaining good staff in human resources; policies, procedures, and regulations; and what to do in a leadership role. 
  6. Designing and Implementing Positive Behavioral Supports - This element consists of basic introduction to positive behavioral supports including values that support positive approaches, behavior observation, functional behavioral assessment, promoting positive behavior, teaching social and coping skills, responding to challenging behaviors, and plan development and implementation. The module is designed to meet the needs of staff who provide supports to individuals with challenging behavior and developmental disabilities. The second section outlines steps involved in developing a positive behavioral support (PBS) plan through person-centered approaches. The training manual is appropriate for those who author PBS plans and those who supervise the implementation of PBS plans. Content includes: identifying when treatment is necessary, conduction and functional behavioral assessment (FBA), linking the FBA to the support plan, essential elements of a PBS plan, implementing the plan, assessing results and data-based decisionmaking.
  7. Prevention of Abuse and Neglect Leadership Course (Online) - An online course that teaches direct support and other professions how to eliminate or decrease the likelihood of abuse. It gives staff the skills they need to be successful and provides guidelines for creating environments where both those receiving support and those providing it are safe and feel respected.  

Professionals applying for certification as a QDDP must complete three electives from the following options:   

  1. Curriculum Electives Aging and Developmental Disabilities - Describes the major demographic, health, and functional characteristics of elderly people with developmental disabilities; the normalization principal and social role valorization; defines “double jeopardy” with respect to aging persons with developmental disabilities; and alternatives for active treatment of elderly persons with developmental disabilities. Discusses the major health issues confronting individuals with developmental disabilities as they age.  
  2. Seizures - Discusses how to recognize a seizure, document seizure activity, and what to do during and after a seizure. Discusses how to assist people to deal with seizures, classifications of seizures, the “Aura,” intervention for different types of seizures, how medications work, the impact of epilepsy, and basic coping skills. 
  3. Positioning, Turning, and Transferring - Discusses the movement, muscle tone, posture, and limited range of motion. Discusses correct and incorrect body mechanics when lifting, turning, or transferring people; reasons for proper positioning; and how to properly position someone in the sitting, side-lying, supine, and prone-resting positions. Discusses how to observe signs of pressure sores and transferring techniques. NDCPD video is a part of this training package. 
  4. Sexuality and DD - Explains appropriate guidelines for day-to-day interaction with people receiving services, the need for assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities, and five basic steps to follow to deal with sexual behavior. Defines areas of sex education, relationship, a social network, and examples of sexual abuse and how to prevent it, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies and how to avoid and treat them. 
  5. Promoting Nutrition and Wellness - This manual discusses six dimensions of wellness and how to support people with disabilities in achieving healthy lifestyle; Dietary Guidelines for Americans; and nutrition issues related to the needs of people developmental disabilities. 
  6. Job Coach Training Manual - Discusses principals of normalization, deinstitutionalization, dignity of risk, and value-based services. Discusses community-based services, community integration, community-based training, the benefits and phases of supported employment and the role of a job coach. 
  7. Assisting People with Traumatic Brain Injury and their Families - Defines brain injury, describes the six causes and the results of brain injury, defines coma and describes the two most common scales used to assess comas. Describes the cognitive symptoms of brain injury and behavioral changes that accompany the injury, coping styles and stress management for families, and rehabilitative services and strategies. 
  8. Rearranging Lives After Alzheimer’s Disease - Explains why and how to complete baseline assessments for individuals with developmental disabilities, three ways to compare previous and recent behavior, five areas that should be measured when conducting assessments for Alzheimer’s disease, and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Describes steps to reduce or prevent inappropriate behaviors, personal care routines, how to preserve the person’s dignity and nutritional needs at mealtime, and how to rearrange the environment to support the person’s ability to age. 
  9. Supporting Individuals with DD and History of Sexual Offense - Provides introduction to the issues of sexuality and sexual offending behavior in people with cognitive disabilities. Provides background information on protecting the rights of persons served as well as the community and potential victims. Treatment guidelines, relapse prevention and the role of the direct support worker in the treatment team are discussed 
  10. Leadership Roles in Human Service Agencies - This module was prepared in an effort to meet the training needs of front line supervisors and other agency leaders, who affect quality of service provision through their leadership and supervisory efforts. The content was written in collaboration with community based DD provider agencies and includes topics identified through a statewide survey of ND middle-management staff and the direct support staff they supervise. 
  11. Community Education and Public Relations - This training manual describes how public relations efforts can help an agency achieve its mission and goals. It discusses the importance of public relations - starting with efforts to promote the agency to company employees and its “customers,” as well as public relations and advocacy efforts at the neighborhood and community levels. 
  12. Supporting Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan - An overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders; educational supports for students with ASD; intervention options and related service strategies to support individuals with ASD; support strategies of adults with Autism; and general information across the life span for individuals with Asperger Syndrome.  

Curriculum content for each training topic includes objectives, lesson pages, feedback questions, and feedback answers.  After each core course and elective, applicants must pass the assessments with 85%. All testing is done on-line. 

Applicants will be scheduled to complete the 8 week Prevention of Abuse and Neglect module with other participants. Training for all other units is self-paced within the nine month deadline for completion of all certification components.

To complete the program, candidates must assemble and submit their portfolios, including 5 case studies, which are reviewed by NAQ representatives.  Following acceptance of portfolios, successful candidates receive a certificate of completion from the NAQ.