Missouri Department of Mental Health Establishes First of Its Kind Apprenticeship Program for Direct Support Professionals

April 06, 2022

DMH's Division of Developmental Disabilities Develops Missouri Talent Pathways to Address Health Care Workforce Shortages

(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – Governor Mike Parson announced that in response to the continuing challenges of accessing an available and skilled workforce, the Department of Mental Health (DMH), Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD), has developed Missouri Talent Pathways, an initiative to recruit and retain a highly skilled and dedicated workforce.

The first of its kind in the nation, Missouri Talent Pathways was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship. Missouri Talent Pathways is now a registered apprenticeship program which blends on-the-job mentoring with technical instruction and culminates in participants receiving a certificate as a Certified Direct Support Professional. As a registered apprenticeship intermediary, the Division and its community partners will have access to an expanded applicant pool, traditional workforce development programs, and a career ladder framework for direct support professionals.

“This registered apprenticeship will increase career opportunities to more Missourians and is a great example of the kind of innovation that occurs in state government,” Governor Parson said. “It's programs like this one, that allow Missouri to consistently rank among the top states for apprenticeship opportunities. We look forward to this program helping expand health care workforce solutions while improving our ability to care for some of Missouri's most vulnerable citizens."

“The public health emergency truly magnified the impact of the staffing crisis within DMH and our community partners,” DMH Director Valerie Huhn said. “This apprenticeship is a piece of the larger solution to help us stabilize the direct support professional workforce by constructing a solid career pathway.”

Other objectives of the Missouri Talent Pathways Apprenticeship include: increasing competency of national best practices and statewide applicability and portability; improving cost and time efficiencies; and expanding talent pipelines.

Specifics for stakeholders, community partners, state agencies, and national partners regarding the process to apply for this registered apprenticeship can be found here.

For more information from the Department of Mental Health go to https://dmh.mo.gov/dev-disabilities/service-providers/talent-pathways or contact Debra Walker at debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov