Val Bradley Awarded the John F. Kennedy Jr. Award for Direct Support Workforce Advocacy & Leadership for 2017

Date: 09/2017

The board of directors of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) named HSRI President Emerita Val Bradley as a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Award for Direct Support Workforce Advocacy & Leadership for 2017. Val was formally recognized, along with fellow recipient, Marianne Taylor (a former HSRI staff member and Project Director on Skills Standards), in Omaha, Nebraska on September 9, during a special ceremony at the NADSP Annual Meeting & Conference.

As stated in the NADSP press release:

Without question these two women have carried out John F. Kennedy Jr's vision of the intersection of a quality direct support workforce and outcomes of people with disabilities. Their careers are distinguished with excellence and iconoclastic leadership that support NADSP's mission. Their contributions have occurred at the individual, organization and national levels. If not for the contributions of these women, NADSP, the credential program, accredited training curricula and the Code of Ethics would not exist.

Ms. Bradley and Ms. Taylor's work over decades has shown brave leadership and commitment to advancing programs and practices designed to increase the knowledge, skills and values of direct support professionals in our communities through improved training programs and career paths. Their work has influenced policy, practice, and outcomes of community supports for people with disabilities.

NADSP specifically called out their accomplishments in the following areas:

  • Development, piloting and implementation of the Community Support Skill Standards (CSSS): These standards were forward thinking when released in 1996 and have withstood the test of time, as their use is present. They serve as the foundation of the NADSP competency areas as well as numerous NADSP approved curriculum, DOL apprenticeship standards and more. The undergird of CSSS resulted in literally millions of direct support professionals (DSPs) being trained toward KSAs required of their jobs in supporting people to have valued community lives.
  • Infrastructure to support the CSSS, including critical contributions to the framework and development of NADSP’s credentialing program/tools
  • Initiating the DSP summit that ultimately resulted in NADSP: Under Val Bradley's leadership on the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, she promoted a summit for DSPs which resulted in the development of the NADSP Code of Ethics and eventually the professional association known today as NADSP. Both Val and Marianne were staunch advocates and instrumental in evolving a DSP special interest group/division within AAIDD.
  • Training and technical assistance in nearly every state and countless organizations on using DSW interventions, including CSSS
  • Launching a data collection initiative to measure individual outcomes for people with disabilities and workforce outcomes for DSPs: Knowing the critical need for data about the lived outcomes and experiences of people with disabilities who live in the community and the connection between these outcomes and the DSP, Ms. Bradley launched development of the National Core Indicators (NCI) program, which include measures for individuals and the DSP workforce. Nearly all states use the NCI to measure individual outcomes and a growing number are using the staff stability measures. This enables data that connects workforce outcomes (stability, vacancy, wage, benefits, and training) to individual outcomes; powerfully rich data needed for DSP advocacy and policy change.
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