GCC Board of Trustees Approves New Developmental Disabilities Certificate Program

Genesee Community College's Board of Trustees this evening authorized the creation of a new certificate program in the Study of Developmental Disabilities. The Board's action must now be ratified by the State University of New York and the New York State Education Department. If approvals are received as expected, the new certificate program will officially begin in September 2003.

The certificate program will prepare students to work with individuals with cognitive and learning disabilities; physical impairments; emotional and behavioral disorders; communication, vision, and hearing impairments; and other disabilities. Graduates are expected to be employed as paraprofessionals in community residences, day treatment centers, employment workshops, and other facilities serving individuals with disabilities.

Leaders of area human services agencies have noted a growing need for additional skilled employees in this career area, noted Dr. Claudia Moore, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. "We hope that this certificate will give students practical skills they can use to serve people with disabilities, and form the basis for very rewarding careers," she said. More than twenty-five human services agencies provide services to people with disabilities living in the Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming region alone, Dr. Moore said.

The certificate in the Study of Development Disabilities can be completed in two semesters of full-time study, or a longer period of part-time study. Although students may seek employment with an agency immediately after completing the certificate, many students are expected to go on to complete an associate's degree in Human Services. Certificate course work fully transfers to students' Human Services associate degree programs.

Students enrolled in the certificate program will complete a concentration of six social science courses, as well as courses in science, communication, health, and an elective. Courses include Introduction to Development Disabilities (HUS 250) and Developmental Disabilities: Strategies and Lifespan Application (HUS 251). The College has updated both of these courses to include the latest theories and practices in the developmental disabilities field.

The new certificate program is a win-win opportunity for students, area agencies and, most of all, for people with disabilities, said Donna Blake, Professor of Human Services. "As a society, we want to encourage the individuality, independence, and inclusion in the community of individuals with developmental disabilities," she said. "Professionals who have expertise in providing quality services to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities help make this happen. By instituting this new certificate, we will give our students opportunities for satisfying careers, but equally important, we will enhance the daily lives of people in our region who have developmental disabilities."