Missouri Talent Pathways

Missouri Talent Pathways (MO TAP) is a workforce solution using evidence-based practices and registered apprenticeships in response to the Direct Support Professional (DSP) workforce crisis.  Registered apprenticeships are a time-proven strategy that blend mentoring, “earn-as-you-learn” training and related technical coursework.  Historically used in the trade and technical industries, MO TAP is a first of its kind apprenticeship strategy applied at a state level to recruit, develop and expand the talent pool of direct care professionals.

Through MO TAP, Home and Community Based Service providers will have access to technical assistance, federal resources, recruiting incentives and quality standards to increase workforce acquisition and retention. Apprentices will have access to high-demand, high-growth careers within the community healthcare industry while earning national credentials.

MO-TAP Objectives include:

  • Stabilize and structure the DSP workforce
  • Scale national best practice
  • Mitigate risk
  • Increase individual outcomes
  • Streamline public health expenditure

E-mail questions to MOTAP@dmh.mo.gov.

MO TAP Collaboration and Consultation

MO TAP is a collaboration between the Missouri Department of Mental Health-Division of Developmental Disabilities, US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, Missouri Department of Higher Education’s Apprenticeship Missouri, Missouri Apprenticeship Connect and community organizations which deliver direct care programming and supports.

MO TAP has consulted with the following entities on foundational design:   National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals; National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services; Institute for Community Inclusion at University Massachusetts-Boston; Research and Training Center on Community Living located within the Institute for Community Living at University of Minnesota; and the National Governors Association.

Project Overview Presentations

This presentation provides an overview of why Missouri Department of Mental Health – Division of Developmental Disabilities and its partners selected a registered apprenticeship as a solution for the Direct Support Professional workforce shortage.

The term apprenticeship is often misunderstood.  This presentation provides an overview of the five elements required of a registered apprenticeship 

A registered apprenticeship is a cooperative effort between an employer partner and an apprentice. This presentation provides a high level overview of each role.

This presentation includes the competencies and skills which will be developed through the MO TaP registered apprenticeship

Certified DSP Apprentice

The Certified Direct Support Professional (CDSP) registered apprenticeship offers prospective candidates a foundation of 15 validated competencies and 69 skills aligned with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) validated competencies. The apprenticeship is a blended-learning of 2,000 hours of on-the-job training (OJT) and 158 hours of course work on national best practice as a direct healthcare professional. Candidates earn, at a minimum, a base-wage of $15/hour when beginning the program and a wage at or above $16.50/hour upon successful completion. The length of the apprenticeship may be shorter based upon previous work and training experiences.

The US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship (DOL-OA) issues the CDSP credential for apprentices who complete this program. As CDSP is registered with DOL-OA, apprentices may be eligible for additional financial assistance through local workforce development programs and/or GI Bill (if applicable). 


  • Communication
  • Crisis Prevention and Intervention
  • Person Centered Supports
  • Supporting Health and Wellness
  • Participant Empowerment
  • Advocacy
  • Building and Maintaining Friendships and Relationships
  • Assessment
  • Facilitation of Services
  • Education, Training and Self Development 
  • Organizational Participation’
  • Documentation
  • Community and Service Networking
  • Community Living Skills and Supports
  • Vocational, Educational and Career Support

To learn more about becoming a CDSP, please email MOTAP@dmh.mo.gov

Employer Partners

Employer Partners are community organizations who serve as host sites for the registered apprenticeship. The Employer Partner’s role is to: Hire interested candidates; enroll the employee as an apprentice; mentor the employee/apprentice to facilitate on-the-job learning; coordinate completion of related technical instruction and support successful completion of the apprenticeship program.  Upon completion of the apprenticeship, the Employer Partner will retain employment, issue the certificate of credentialing and will adjust compensation to the required wage step increase. 

Employer Partners participate in monthly Community of Practices (COP) to refine implementation, elevate practice and maintain fidelity of the apprenticeship.  Technical guidance and assistance is available, at no cost, to the Employer Partner from a team of in-state and national subject matter experts.

Current approved Employer Partners are:

  • Aspirations for Independent Living LLC, Cape Girardeau
  • Blue Sky Community Services, Cape Girardeau
  • Boone Supported Living, LLC.,  Columbia
  • Center for Human Services, Western, Central and Northern Missouri
  • Choices for People, Rolla and Central Missouri
  • Community Opportunities, Troy
  • Emmaus Homes, St. Charles
  • Higginsville Habilitation Center, Higginsville
  • Home Care Nursing, Inc., Fredericktown
  • Learning Opportunities/Quality Works, Northeast Missouri
  • Northwest Community Services, Western and West central Missouri
  • Platte County Board of Services, Platte City
  • Pulaski County Group Home, Waynesville
  • REM Missouri d/b/a Missouri Mentor, Maryland Heights
  • Share and Care for Special People, Inc., Clinton
  • Sisters Supportive Living, Inc., Boonville
  • Specialized Support Services, Inc., St. Joseph
  • Summit Future Foundation, Kansas City
  • TNC Community, Independence

**Sites with active apprentices listed in BOLD

To learn more about becoming an Employer Partner of MO TAP, please email MOTAP@dmh.mo.gov.

MO TAP 2023 Accomplishments
Current Staff Retention Rate

Employer Partners with apprentices have a current staff retention rate of 67.2%.  In 2023 there were 411 registered apprentices, 46 graduated and 230 active apprentices with positive progression. 

Graduates Average Annual Wage Increase

Graduates of the Certified Direct Support Professional apprenticeship have received an average annual wage increase of $6,155.


Staff Retention Rate

Employer Partners and DSP have 26% higher staff retention rates as compared to the statewide average of organizations who completed the 2023 National Core Indicators State of the Workforce Survey.

Employer Partner Savings

Employer Partner savings based upon current retention rate and starting wages using an industry standard of 18% staffing replacement cost avoidance.