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Direct Support Professional Program Summary

Summary about the Direct Support Professional Training Program.


Direct Support Professionals provide direct care for developmentally disabled individuals in licensed community care facilities as outlined by the California Code of Regulations, Title 17. The requirement for the community care facilities direct care staff training was created by Assembly Bill 2780, Chapter 310 enacted in 1998. The Direct Support Professional Training (DSPT) program was developed as a result of this legislation.


In 1998, the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) entered into an interagency agreement giving CDE sole responsibility for training and testing for Direct Support Professionals statewide. Currently, there are four Service Hubs involved in the DSPT program.


Regional Centers provide no-cost DSP training and testing to over 7,000 students annually. Over 91 percent of the individuals completing their ROCP DSP training pass certification exams. These instructional efforts address the improved patient care efforts outlined in AB 2780, Chapter 310 as well as Title 17.


Funding for staff time to advise and consult with four Service Hubs on DSPT issues is covered by the interagency agreement and contract ($6.9 million) between DDS and CDE. The DSPT program is contract education for the Service Hubs as they do not generate average daily attendance for this student training.

Students Served

Any existing or newly hired direct care staff working in a licensed community care facility must either take and pass the Challenge test for Year 1 or complete the 35-hour course for Year 1 and pass the exit exam within one year of their hire date. They then have one year to either take and pass the Challenge test for Year 2 or complete the 35-hour course and pass the exit exam. It is estimated by DDS that there are upwards of 40,000 direct care staff working throughout the State.


Last year over 5,000 students either took the challenge tests or completed the training programs and passed the certification exam.

Contact Information

The Direct Support Professional Training Program is administered by:

Tara Neilson
Education Programs Consultant

California Department of Education
Career and College Transition Division
Career Technical Education Leadership Office
1430 N Street, Suite 4202
Sacramento, CA 95814

Questions:   Tara Neilson | | 916-445-5568
Last Reviewed: Friday, July 15, 2022