The Developmental Services Worker Program recognizes the importance of providing the student with a wide variety of competencies, general and specialized, to meet the diverse needs of people with disabilities requiring support. The graduate (student) requires a knowledge base to enable the development of strategies to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities so that they can live in a state of dignity and are able to be fully included and valued in their communities.
In order to encourage such change in our communities, our graduates must be ‘agents of change’ who believe in concepts of:
- individualization: support that meet individual capabilities and enhance choice and self-direction.
- inclusion: opportunities for people to live in communities of their choice with people of their choice (promotion of interdependence).
- empowerment: the right of each person to determine his/her own situation
The graduate (student) must be willing to examine self in relation to change, and thereby come to recognize the importance of self-esteem in the empowerment process.
Role of a Developmental Services Worker
The DSW is trained to work with individuals having a disability. Although the program focuses on disabilities which are developmental, the graduate is provided generic skills to enable a career working with a variety of exceptionalities and varying learning needs.
The worker’s role has expanded considerably in order to implement the concepts of individualization, inclusion and empowerment. The most recent changes to services in Ontario are outlined in the MCSS publication ‘Making Services Work for People: A New Framework for Children and for People with Developmental Disabilities’ (April 1997). In this role of the service provider is any specific function identified in the ‘individualized service agreement’ as well as the generalized responsibility of working with other service providers ‘to ensure that individuals and families receive a coordinated set of services and supports in the right sequence, so that services work together to support the best possible outcomes’.
The role of the DSW graduate in these changing times will continue to evolve. The aspect of the worker as a ‘change agent’ will continue to be a very important one - promoting/advocating for growth and quality of life so that the persons with disabilities live in a state of dignity and are fully included and valued in their communities.