Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Developmental Services Workers Make Important Contributions to Society

Developmental services workers (DSWs) play a crucial role in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities. These professionals work with those with intellectual disabilities in their homes, at work and school, and in leisure roles in the community. Their goal is to help to build natural community supports, networks and valued social roles for individuals with intellectual disabilities. If this sounds like something in which you may be interested, you must attend a post-secondary program to obtain the necessary credentials.

One such undertaking is Centennial College’s Developmental Services Worker program, which takes two years to complete and results in an Ontario College Diploma. To apply, students must possess at minimum an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent or be 19 years of age or older. In addition, they must have taken the compulsory English 12C or U or skills assessment, or equivalent. English proficiency will be considered in the admissions process and a program admission session may also be required.

One of the most celebrated features of the program is its supervised field placements during semesters three and four. Students are sent into the field to work alongside professionals and apply what they have learned in previous semesters. This experience enhances students’ resumes and education. Please note that some field placement agencies may require a criminal reference check prior to student placement. Certain criminal convictions may disallow placement in these agencies and program completion may not be possible.

Meanwhile, in-school training focuses on understanding the nature of intellectual disabilities, facilitation skills, critical and reflective thinking, team skills, time management and accessing resources. The curriculum reflects current issues and developments in the field with stress on in-depth analysis and critical thinking. Therefore, students learn through lectures, projects, community observations, Internet searches and electronic communication. Specific developmental services workers courses include: Introduction to Disability (focuses especially on the field of intellectual disability), History of Disability (analyzing the evolution of supports and services with particular attention paid to the use of imagery and role perceptions), Policy and Social Welfare Systems (an introduction to those factors that contribute to the development of social policy and social welfare in Canada), and many others.

If students want to further their education upon graduation from Centennial College, they may be eligible to participate in an articulated program with selected universities, institutes and professional associations. These partnerships allow graduates to apply academic credit towards further study. The partner of the Developmental Services Worker program is Ryerson University (Disability Studies). Graduates with a B grade average or better can apply to Ryerson’s two-year post-diploma degree completion program, Bachelor of Applied Arts in Disability Studies.

Working as educational assistants in schools, employment support workers, family supporters, integration facilitators, and residential service workers in group homes, these professionals have a variety of tasks. These tasks include: completing and maintaining client history and background forms, participating in the development and implementation of individually-directed plans, supporting clients in developing relationships, managing medication, developing and applying crisis intervention strategies, being responsible for and promoting a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a safe environment.

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