The qualifications and training requirements for agency-based Personal Support Workers (PSWs) are the same as those required for Direct Support Persons (DSPs). There are no specific training requirements for participant-directed PSWs. 

What qualifications are needed to be an agency-based Personal Support Worker?

  1. Be at least 16 years of age.
  2. Be able to speak and understand the English language or a language understood by a substantial percentage of persons served by the provider.
  3. Provide evidence of prior employment or occupation, if any, and residence for two years prior to present employment.
  4. 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 PSWs 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.

  5. Have a name-based or fingerprint criminal background check results from the Illinois State Police reported to the Health Care Worker Registry.
  6. Have successfully completed an approved DSP training program within 120 days of hire or being assigned PSW duties. 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.
  7. 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 agency-based PSWs to work alone with people with developmental disabilities.
  8. Have a current certification in First Aid and CPR through either the American Red Cross or American Heart Association or hold current certification as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). First Aid and CPR certification can be earned during DSP training.
  9. 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 an agency-based 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 (14 hours) of a Division-approved DSP training program:

  • CPR and First Aid training (6 hours), or hold current certification through the American Red Cross or American Heart Association or as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
  • 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 an agency-based 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 (49 hours) of a Division-approved DSP training program:

  1. CPR and First Aid training (6 hours), or hold current certification through the American Red Cross or American Heart Association or as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
  2. Abuse & Neglect Prevention, Recognition & Intervention (3 hours, classroom training; 5 hours, on-the-job training activities or Competency-Based Training Assessments).
  3. Basic Health and Safety (15 hours, classroom training; 20 hours on-the-job training activities or Competency-Based Training Assessments).
  4. 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 time of hire and annual clearances of the Health Care Worker Registry, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Children Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS), and Illinois Sex Offender registry.

Note: See DSP Qualifications and Training Requirements