What Do Aspiring Developmental Service Workers Need to Know?

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    Jun 12, 2014
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What Do Aspiring Developmental Service Workers Need to Know? Photo by Jason White

Developmental Service Workers (DSWs) are specially trained professionals who provide support and care to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. They promote overall well-being and full community inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities while offering them personal support to enhance their capacity. They also help build connections between individuals and families, encourage skill development, and employ formal and informal strategies to support their learning.

DSWs possess in-depth understanding of social psychology, the nature of intellectual disability, pharmacology, and the role of family and community in one's life. Although no qualification is required to serve the community but it's important to have a deep understanding of the life experiences of people who have developmental disabilities, best industry practices and current issues in this field, in order to serve them in the best possible manner.

Moreover, developmental service work is considered a specialized field in Canada. Therefore, it's mandatory to undergo a formal education and training in this field, in order to seek entry to the world of work. Developmental service work is an academic and professional discipline that is concerned with supporting individuals of all ages who have intellectual abilities, in their homes, at work, in schools and to their families.

A program in development service work offers a strong foundation in the field of intellectual or developmental disabilities and essential skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, leadership and interpersonal and teaching and facilitation, time management, reflective thinking and team skills. Additionally, a wide variety of field placement opportunities are offered to students that allow them to put their learning into practice.

Program Details

A post-secondary diploma program in development service work typically runs for two years through four semesters. It is an intensive program that offers a unique blend of theory and hands-on experience. You will study a wide range of subjects, including Introduction to Developmental Service Work, Interpersonal Skill Development, Valued Social Roles, The Nature of Intellectual Ability, Health Promotion and Personal Well-Being, Pharmacology, Social Psychology, Supports for Personal Health, Global Citizenship: From Social Analysis to Social Action, and Community, Family and Role. The coursework also includes research work, teamwork, projects, seminars, community observations and career preparation.

Choosing the Right Program

A good program doesn't solely focus on providing theoretical knowledge to students. It also provides you with strong industry exposure, helping them you to prepare for the world of work. Centennial College's two-year developmental service workers program incorporates two field placements in semester three (two-days-per-week) and semester four (three-days-per-week), to help you gain better understanding of personal support requirements of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Moreover, the program enables you to fill a variety of work roles, such as educational assistant, family support worker, employment support worker, integration facilitator, residential support worker and job coach.

You may also be eligible to apply your academic rewards with selected universities, institutes and professional associations towards further studies in health service administration, applied science in family and community social services, social work or disability studies.

Providing support services to intellectual disable people is a highly rewarding work on a personal level. And professionally, the field continues to offer stable employment to individuals.

Author's Profile

The author of the article, discusses about the knowledge and skills required for becoming a developmental service workers in Canada. He further writes about Centennial College's two-year post-secondary diploma program in developmental service work that prepares students for careers in this field.

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