First in New Jersey

Brenda receives her national certification from Cathy Church, director of nursing services, and Chris King, vice president of operations.

Professionals who care for people with disabilities know it’s a demanding job, and the turnover rate can be high. For that reason, the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities awarded a grant to the New Jersey Direct Support Professional Workforce Development Coalition to develop a program designed to reduce the turnovers through certification.

The pilot project involved staff members from nine agencies, and Matheny was one of those. Brenda Hoagland, a direct support trainer, agreed to be Matheny’s coordinator for this program. Through her leadership, Matheny has had more participants than any other agency in New Jersey, and Brenda has now become the first person in the state to receive national certification as a direct support professional. She is one of 20 such professionals in the entire country.

As proud as she is of her own accomplishments, Hoagland is delighted that other staff members have followed her lead. At a special gathering of Matheny employees to recognize her achievement, she presented Level 1 and Level II certifications to six Matheny staff members, who took online courses at the College of Direct Support, an internet-based college for direct support professionals.

From left, Brenda, Imelda Schroeder, a personal care assistant; Bernard Jaruga, a PCA; Frank Kitchen, a vehicle driver; Richard Cerreon, a PCA; and Steve Proctor, Matheny president. (Not pictured: certified staff members Liya Malatu, PCA, and Wondwassen Atnafu, driver.)