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Michigan's Direct Care Workers Convene at MSU to Shape Future Standards


Photo by: Tracy Anderson 

Direct Care Workers (DCWs) from across Michigan convened at East Lansing's Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center to spearhead the development of a new credentialing exam pivotal to their field. Hosted by IMPART Alliance in partnership with WorkCred, the gathering aimed to enhance training protocols and ensure DCWs possess indispensable skills for their roles.

Throughout the week, DCWs from Midland, southeast Michigan, and the greater Lansing area engaged in intensive writing sessions. Their mission: to formulate rigorous exam questions that will assess competencies in areas such as communication, infection control, safety, and person-centered practices. These exams not only would validate the expertise of DCWs, but also match them effectively with individuals requiring their compassionate support.

Bethany Duyser, assistant director at IMPART Alliance, highlighted the collaborative nature of the initiative. “This event is pivotal for developing evaluation items that truly reflect the demands of Direct Care Workers,” she explained. “By incorporating insights from experienced consultants and the firsthand experiences of DCWs, we are committed to establishing credentials that are both meaningful and equitable.”

Marcus Jefferson, a DCW from Grand Ledge, works in a group home that supports individuals living with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that is defined by a constant sense of hunger, leading to obesity and type-2 diabetes. Jefferson said one individual lost more than 200 pounds.


“This isn’t a job for a person who’s not invested here,” Jefferson said, pointing to his heart. “In our home, we can’t afford to have just a warm body. We need people that are not only engaged, but capable. And that’s what this training does.”

The credentialing process, rooted in direct engagement with DCWs, aims not only to elevate standards but also to bolster recruitment and retention efforts within the workforce. Duyser highlighted that this approach supplements existing pathways into the direct care sector rather than replacing them. “Our goal is to empower DCWs and acknowledge their invaluable contributions,” she affirmed.

Preceding the writing sessions was a comprehensive job task analysis workshop held in December, which gathered over 30 DCWs from across Michigan. This workshop, followed by several virtual meetings, laid the groundwork for identifying key competencies essential for Direct Care Workers. The recent writing event marked a crucial follow-up, further refining these insights into tangible exam questions.

“This process is driven by DCWs for DCWs,” Duyser emphasized. “It focuses on frontline workers sharing their expertise and shaping the professional landscape, ensuring that their valuable insights are integral to the decision-making process.”

The next phase of this initiative includes a second writing workshop on June 24-25, with a comprehensive review scheduled for August. As Michigan's DCWs continue to steer the course of their profession, their collective efforts hold promise for a future where excellence and empathy define the standards of care across the state and beyond.

 Story by: Bradley LaPlante