The qualifications and training requirements for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) are the same as those required for Direct Support Persons (DSPs). 

A staff person that spends more than 20% of their time supporting people with developmental disabilities must meet certain qualifications and complete a state-approved Direct Support Person (DSP) training program.

What qualifications are needed to be a Personal Support Worker?

  1. PSW must meet the requirements for DSP below.
  2. Be at least 16 years of age.
  3. Be able to speak and understand the English language or a language understood by a substantial percentage of persons served by the provider.
  4. Provide evidence of prior employment or occupation, if any, and residence for two years prior to present employment.
  5. Have completed at least eight years of grade school or provide proof of equivalent knowledge. Testing at an 8th grade reading level on the TABE, ABLE or CASAS addresses this requirement.

    Note: For DSPs to administer medications, proof of a high school diploma or GED is required. See Information Bulletin for all DSP requirements regarding administration of medication in specific community settings.

  6. Have a name-based or finger-print criminal background check from the Illinois State Police with the results reported to the Health Care Worker Registry.
  7. Have successfully completed an approved DSP training program within 120 days of hire. An approved DSP training program is comprised of at least 40 hours of classroom training and 80 hours of On-the-Job training.  Time period for completion cannot be less than three weeks.
  8. Have their DSP training record added to the Health Care Worker Registry within 30 days of completing an approved DSP training program. The designation "DD Aide" on the Health Care Worker Registry allows DSPs to work by alone with people with developmental disabilities.
  9. For PSWs that provide services to children under age 18, a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS), is also required. The CANTS clearance is completed by the Fiscal Management Services agency. The results must be obtained prior to the employee's start date.
  10. Have a current certification (can be earned in DSP training) in First Aid and CPR through either the American Red Cross or American Heart Association
  11. Have no disqualifying convictions (without a waiver) or an administrative finding of abuse, neglect or theft listed on the Health Care Worker Registry.

What if the person hired as a PSW is already a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA)?

Individuals listed on the Health Care Worker Registry as CNAs may be added to the Health Care Worker Registry as a DD Aide (DSP) by completing the following portions of a Division-approved DSP training program:

  • CPR and First Aid training or current certification (6 hours).
  • Abuse & Neglect Prevention, Recognition & Intervention (classroom, 4 hours), on-the-job training or a Competency-Based Training Assessment (10 hours). 

Individuals must demonstrate competency in all areas listed in the DSP Core Competency Area Checklist (pdf) (IL462-1286), including the Basic Health & Safety items.

What if the person you hired as a PSW is a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional  (QIDP)? 

Individuals listed on the state QIDP Registry who have completed a DHS-approved 40 hour QIDP orientation training program and spend 20% or more of their time providing direct support to people with developmental disabilities may be added to the Health Care Worker Registry as a DD Aide (DSP) by completing the following portions of a Division-approved DSP training program:

  1. CPR and First Aid training or current certification (6 hours).
  2. Abuse & Neglect Prevention, Recognition & Intervention (3 hours of classroom training) and on-the-job training or Competency-Based Training Assessment (5 hours of classroom training).
  3. Be observed demonstrating competency in each of the bolded areas of the remaining content areas listed in the QIDP Orientation Training Competency Area Checklist (pdf) (IL462-0134).

These individuals should already have results of a name-based or fingerprint criminal background check from the Illinois State Police reported to the Health Care Worker Registry and a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Children Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) clearance.

Note: See DSP Qualifications and Training Requirements