New Jersey Disaster Response Crisis Counselor (NJDRCC) Certification
New Jersey is one of the first states in the nation to undergo a formal process for certification of its disaster crisis response workforce. The NJDRCC certification represents a partnership between the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services' Disaster and Terrorism Branch, the Mental Health Association of New Jersey and The Certification Board of New Jersey, Inc. Funded through a generous federal Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) grant, the DRCC certification is issued by The Certification Board.
In order to recognize the significant expertise and contribution of the many professionals who have provided their services in disaster situations throughout the years, a grandfathering period is offered to human service professionals who wish to obtain the certification. Grandfathering for the certification has been extended through June 30, 2008, and allows for human service professionals to receive the certification at no cost. In order to meet grandfathering requirements for certification, human service professionals are asked to complete an on-line application and two training courses: Introduction to Disaster Mental Health and Trauma Counseling (6 hours, currently offered in-classroom only) and National Incident Management 700 and Incident Command System 100 (4 hours, offered in-classroom and online).
An online tutorial for this course is available on the Disaster and Terrorism Branch website (click here for more information), Completed applications are reviewed by a committee of professionals with expertise in disaster response. Applications which have met the approval of this committee are then forwarded to The Certification Board for final processing, which includes background checks conducted through fingerprinting. Instructions for the application and the on-line certification application are provided on this website.
The need for certifying crisis response workers became apparent in the aftermath of 9/11, when the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services operated its largest FEMA-funded disaster response program in its history. Many lessons were learned from 9/11, with one of the principle lessons being the critical need for an organized, well-trained and credentialed workforce. The NJDRCC certification began as a credentialing pilot project in August 2004, when community forums were held to gather information and expertise on the subject.
Beginning in late 2004 and continuing throughout 2005, the credentialing process and application were piloted in five counties: Essex, Morris, Ocean, Passaic and Monmouth. After feedback from these counties was reviewed by leadership within the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, it was determined to expand the certification process state-wide in 2006 and 2007 as part of the Disaster and Terrorism Branch’s mission to develop and sustain a qualified volunteer workforce.
As of December 2007, over 1100 applications have been received and approximately 300 certifications issued. The Certification Board meets on a quarterly basis (September, December, March and June) and must review all completed applications for final approval and issuance of the DRCC certification. The DRCC certification process continues to be refined and streamlined in order to maximize efficiency and ensure that qualified applicants are certified in a timely fashion.
At the end of the grandfathering period, human service professionals will be required to complete a 28-hour curriculum for DRCC certification. Should you have additional questions about the DRCC certification, please contact Annie James, Training Coordinator for the Mental Health Association of New Jersey at (973) 571-4100, ext. 143, or Debbie Loffredo, Mental Health Emergency Response Coordinator for NJDMHAS Disaster and Terrorism Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check this website (www.njdrcc.org) for updates to our training calendar.