The concept of a professional association for disability workers was launched at the 2009 ACDS Kananaskis Workshop. The idea received the support of 94% of the sector. The initial work in moving the idea forward was done by the Northeast Workforce Council, St. Paul Abilities Network and the ACDS Provincial Workforce Council.
A Steering Committee articulated what the new Association would do:
- Build an identity as a valued workforce
- Protect the public interest
- Provide direction and regulate the profession
- Establish, maintain and enforce standards for registration, continuing competence, and standards of practice
- Establish, maintain and enforce a code of ethics
- Establish the criteria for acceptance to membership
- Maintain and determine benchmarks for competence (i.e., standard practice, behavioural management, special care, dual/multiple diagnosis, program development skills, etc.)
- Select and approve education programs, upgrades and individual training plans for registration purposes
- Work with providers and other employers to ensure competencies are maintained. The Alberta Disability Workers Association would also undertake to promote good practice by assisting with planning annual conferences and regional events, and would partner with other organizations that advocate for a disability services agenda.
- Provide a central and secure registry that would be available to determine qualified professionals "in good standing"
- Categorize designations of individual members based on Prior Experience and Learning (PEaL)
- Advocate for membership and articulate the issues specific to employees in the field of Disability Services
The Alberta Disability Workers Association (ADWA) was registered as a non-profit Association in Alberta in June of 2010. In October 2010, the ADWA Steering Committee elected interim officers (President Tim Bear, Vice-President Gwen Bilodeau, Secretary Shauna Pilipchuk, Treasurer Eugene McCafferty).
Since that time, ADWA has actively advocated for fair compensation and educational opportunities, adopted a Code of Professional Ethics & Conduct, and developed core competency standards for community disability workers. A certification process has been developed and is being piloted.
The most recent Annual General Meeting in May of 2019 was our ninth.