NAQ Certification Program

Program History & Overview: 

Individuals serving as Qualified Developmental Disability Professionals (QDDPs, also known as QIDPs and case managers) frequently function as key staff members in the lives of persons with developmental disabilities, regardless of setting or community.  Historically, guidelines from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) require only that QDDPs have a degree in a human service field and one year experience, and many states have no additional training requirements beyond this minimal federal standard.  Often, providers and support organizations who recognize the need for training and professional growth often cannot offer educational opportunities since they lack sufficient funding or support for curriculum development.  Given their range of responsibilities, it is essential that QDDPs have knowledge of the best, most promising practices, as well as an understanding of the basic principles of quality services and supports.

The QDDP Certification Program fills this void and offers a nationally-recognized learning curriculum relevant across states and service populations. The program provides advanced training and knowledge acquisition for individuals working with persons with developmental disabilities. The signature credential is based on the values and principles of person-centered planning, self determination, positive behavior support, family support, individual responsibility, and the prevention of abuse and neglect.

NAQ developed the certification program content based on Minot State University’s training curriculum for QDDPs of developmental disability organizations throughout the state of North Dakota. In order to reach as many interested persons as possible, the program was designed as an on-line certification program. The program was beta-tested with participants from across the country, who work in different programs and settings including ICFs/MR and waiver programs.  Their feedback was used to adjust course content, streamline the application process, and test the procedures for evaluating portfolios. 

Certification Qualifications:  

Candidates must meet the following criteria:
  1. Meet the federal definition of QDDP.
  2. Have at least two years of qualifying experience. Those who have at least one year of experience working as a QDDP or who worked in a similar professional position may enroll in the program at any time. It should be noted that a student may be working towards the second year of required professional experience while enrolled in the program. Certification will not be awarded until the experience requirement is met.
  3. Become a member of the NAQ.

Applying for the Program:

  1. Submit a completed application, essays, resume and $150.00 fee.  
  2. Provide professional references verifying experience and professional conduct consistent with the NAQ Code of Ethics.
  3. Submit official transcripts from all higher education institutions to NAQ.  
  4. Undergo a criminal background check hat demonstrates the absence of a history of criminal, civil, or professional sanctions for conduct detrimental to vulnerable persons or populations.

Once a candidate is approved for the program, the remaining $800.00 in fees are due.  Once these are paid, the candidate will be asked to choose their elective courses.  Then coursework can begin.  

The Certification Process:

The NAQ Certification Program is an online, self-paced educational opportunity. Participants are given nine months to complete the program. 

Professionals applying for certification as a QDDP must complete seven “core” training elements that include: 

  1. Supporting Individuals with Disabilities in Community Settings
  2. Person Centered Planning
  3. Working with Families
  4. Achieving Personal Outcomes – Implementing the Person Centered Plan
  5. Guidelines for QDDPs
  6. Designing and Implementing Behavior Positive Behavioral Supports
  7. Preventing Abuse and Neglect of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (this course must be taken within a specified time frame and is the only instructor-led course)

Professionals applying for certification as a QDDP must complete three electives from the following options:   

  1. Aging and Developmental Disabilities
  2. Seizure Disorders
  3. Positioning, Turning, and Transferring
  4. Sexuality and Developmental Disabilities
  5. Promoting Nutrition and Wellness
  6. Job Coach Training Manual
  7. Assisting People with Traumatic Brain Injury and their Families
  8. Rearranging Lives After Alzheimer’s Disease
  9. Supporting Individuals with DD and History of Sexual Offense
  10. Leadership Roles in Human Service Agencies
  11. Community Education and Public Relations
  12. Supporting Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan 

Curriculum content for each training topic includes objectives, lesson pages, feedback questions, and feedback answers.  After each core course and elective, applicants must pass the assessments with 85%. All testing is done on-line. 

Applicants will be scheduled to complete the 8 week Prevention of Abuse and Neglect module with other participants. Training for all other units is self-paced within the nine month deadline for completion of all certification components.

To complete the program, candidates must assemble and submit their portfolios, including 5 case studies, which are reviewed by NAQ representatives.  Following acceptance of portfolios, successful candidates receive a certificate of completion from the NAQ. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why should I get certified?

Although the federal government does not require QDDPs to be certified at this time, potential employers may view certification as a sign of advanced knowledge in the field. The NAQ Certification Program represents best practices, and signifies to employers that you have taken the time to equip yourself with the most current skills available.

How much does it cost?

The NAQ certification course is available for a reasonable cost of $950.00 (includes the application fee and all coursework). Note that the required NAQ membership of $55.00 is not  included in this total.  Some employers may be willing to assist you with payment under tuition reimbursement programs, subject to availability of funds and company policies.

How long is the certification period?

QDDP certification is valid for four years.  After four years, a recertification fee of $100.00 and 36 CEUs (18 of which must be completed in the 1st 2 years and 18 of which must be complete in the 2nd 2 years) are required.  NAQ reserves the right to modify certification requirements at any time, as long as candidates are provided with advanced notice of those changes.