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.

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.

What qualifications are needed to be a DSP?

  • Must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Must be able to speak and understand the English language or a language understood by a substantial percentage of persons served by the provider.
  • Must provide evidence of prior employment or occupation, if any, and residence for two years prior to present employment.
  • Must 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.
  • Must have all required background checks before being hired.
  • Must have successfully completed an approved DSP training program within 120 days of hire. An approved DSP training program is 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.
  • Must have their DSP training record added to the Health Care Worker Registry within 30 days of completing an approved DSP training program using procedures in the DSP Illinois Health Care Worker Registry Packet Instruction Manual (pdf). The designation "DD Aide" on the Health Care Worker Registry. This designation is required before DSPs can work alone with people with developmental disabilities. It is the responsibility of the agency to ensure that this designation is present on the Health Care Worker Registry. 
  • Must have a current certification (earned in DSP training) in First Aid and CPR through either the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.

What if the person hired as a DSP is already a CNA, LPN or RN?

Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) and registered Nurses (RN) that are hired to function as a Direct Support Persons (DSPs) may be added to the Health Care Worker Registry as DD Aides if they have:

  1. Completed CPR and First Aid training (6 hours) or can document current certification in each. Trainees certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) via the Illinois Department of Public Health or National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians meet CPR and First Aid training requirements. 
  2. Completed Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation Prevention, Recognition & Intervention classroom training (3 hours) and On-The Job activities (5 hours).
  3. Demonstrated competency in all areas listed in the DSP Training Program Core Competency Area Checklist (pdf) (IL462-1286), or DSP Training Program: Core Competency Verification Form (pdf) (IL462-1290), or listed as DSP Required Classroom Competencies and DSP Required OJT Competencies.
  4. Reported completion of their abbreviated DSP training to the Health Care Worker Registry (HCWR) within 30 days of its completion and be designated as a "DD Aide" on the Health Care Worker Registry record. See Health Care Worker Registry Instruction Manual (pdf).
  5. Results of an Illinois State Police name-based or fingerprint criminal background check reported to the Health Care Worker Registry.
  6. Have their name cleared by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Children Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS), Illinois Sex Offender Registry and HFS OIG Sanction List.

Note: See Division of Developmental Disabilities' Training Requirements Manual for more information on DSP Qualifications and Training Requirements.

Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional (QIDP)

Individuals listed on the state QIDP Registry who have completed a DHS-approved 40-hour QIDP training program and spend 20% or more of their time providing direct support 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, 3 hours) and OJT/CBTA, 5 hours); and (need to describe CBTA)
  • 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 finger-print 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.