Last year, Millersville University and Excentia Human Services announced a partnership to address the challenges facing the human services workforce in Lancaster County, which included developing Excentia Human Services’ Center for Training and Professional Development and creating two customized training programs. Within the first year, Excentia Human Services hoped to graduate 15 employees from the program. They recently celebrated 44 graduates from the center, with more on the way.
Excentia Human Services employees can undergo two programs through the Center. The Direct Support Professional Enrichment Program, through The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, requires about 50 hours of coursework and six in-person sessions, focusing on various topics like promoting professionalism and handling conflicts, crisis prevention and incident management, boundaries and more. Once complete, employees earn their DSP I certification.
The Excellence in Human Services Leadership Program is a nine-month course where employees focus on leading with vision, emotional intelligence, communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, team dynamics and embracing change, among other skills.
Mary Godin ‘15, director of development and marketing at Excentia Human Services, says the company has heard great feedback, particularly about the Excellence in Human Services program. “Most of this feedback centered on the fact that the course gave them the opportunity to enhance their leadership and managerial skills.”
“What’s great is this program has participants in every facet of our organization, meaning upon successful completion of the course, their influence and learning will have far-reaching and dramatic effects on our organization, which will ultimately benefit our quality of service and employee morale,” she says.
In fact, in collaborating with MU to create the Center, Excentia Human Services was recently named a Nonprofit Innovation Awards winner by Central Penn Business Journal. “We’re proud that the CTAPD is getting the recognition it deserves,” says Godin.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that this curriculum is entirelly unique,” she continues. “There are two women who have dedicated hours of their expertise to developing this program for our employees – Hope Schmids, director of workforce development programs at MU, and Renee Rohrer, training lead at Excentia Human Services. Our Nonprofit Innovation Award honoree designation is a testament to their efforts and the partnership between Millersville and Excentia Human Services.”
Godin says that this is an important partnership because it addresses the challenges facing the human services field. “In the past two years, the intellectual disability and autism communities have experienced a mass exodus of direct support professionals causing great concern, as they are vital to providing supportive services to people.”
“Many human service agencies agree that their workforce is reaching a critical point in providing services to people, especially within the intellectual disability and autism communities. Excentia Human Services contacted MU, knowing its reputation as a regional powerhouse, to brainstorm a solution to this workforce issue. It quickly became clear that the closely aligned values of our two organizations would drive our collaboration.”
The Center is now expanding its course offerings even further through NADSP. Excentia Human Services will offer its employees the opportunity to earn all levels of the Direct Support Professional certification. Employees who earned the DSP I certificate can continue with DSP II in early 2024 and DSP III later on.
“Excentia Human Services believes in approaching everything they do with integrity, honesty, respect, and accountability; creating a positive, supportive environment where all people can have their voice heard; cultural competency, high ethical standards, and equality and fairness in all things; and building partnerships with the people we serve, their families, and everyone in our community,” Godin concludes. “Millersville University’s EPPIIC values align seamlessly with our values.”