Information for Community Partners

About the DDHS Program

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services to offer undergraduate students across disciplines the opportunity to specialize in developmental disabilities, through a combination of coursework and internship experience.

About the Students

Many students enter the DDHS program with personal or professional experience with individuals with disabilities, but for some the internship placement is their first experience working with this population.

These students have a broad range of majors, including Psychology, Communication Disorders, Public Health, and Nursing, but all aspire to work with individuals with disabilities and their families in their future careers.

Students in the specialization program complete three courses: Intellectual Disability: Concepts and Controversies, the Impact of Disability on Families, and Applied Behavior Analysis. These small seminar courses are designed to introduce students to critical issues in the field.

The DDHS Internship Program

The Program Director maintains a list of pre-approved internship sites on the program’s website blogs.umass.edu/ddhs/internship/sites. A basic description is provided for each site, including information about the organization, populations served, accessibility by public transportation, and a general description of what an intern might do. A contact person is listed for each agency. This person will not necessarily serve as the student’s day-to-day supervisor, but can connect the student with the appropriate person within their agency.

Listing your internship on the program website does NOT obligate you to take any given student in any given semester. You are free to screen applicants in any way you see fit, including a formal interview and background check. Students are encouraged to provide a resume. You can determine when and how many students to accept as interns. Most students complete the internship in the fall and spring semester, but winter and summer internships are also permitted.

Arranging an Internship

Students in the DDHS program are expected to arrange their internships one semester in advance. Students will review the list of pre-approved sites on the program website and select 1-2 agencies to contact. Typically, students begin this process halfway through the semester prior to their internship. Once you meet with the student and agree on a job description and weekly schedule, the student will complete the necessary paperwork. Students are required to purchase malpractice insurance and complete a criminal background check before beginning their internship.

Frequently Ask Questions

What paperwork do I need to complete?

  • The student will complete all of the necessary paperwork. You will receive an email at the end of the semester requesting an evaluation of the student, this is optional but encouraged.

Do students have to be paid?

  • You can offer either a paid or unpaid internship, it’s up to you.

How many hours does the student need to complete?

  • Students receive 1 credit for every 40 hours of internship. Students can count time spent on training, professional developmental, and weekly journals in addition to time spent on site. Students are generally seeking 3 credits (120 hours), which is approximately 8-9 hours per week. The schedule is negotiated between you and the student before the semester begins.

Can I require a longer commitment?

  • You can include a requirement for a longer commitment (e.g., the full academic year) on your site’s description on the program website.

What assignments are required of the student?

  • Students submit weekly journals, a final reflection paper and a timesheet to the program director over the course of the semester. You can request that the student share these with you.

What level of supervision is required?

  • Students should not substitute for employees and therefore should not be left alone with clients or transport clients. We expect students will have the opportunity to discuss their experiences with a supervisor on a regular basis, either in one-on-one or group meetings.

What if the student is not meeting my expectations?

  • You are encouraged to provide feedback about job performance to the students directly, but you can also contact the program director with any questions or concerns.

How can my agency join the program?

Benefits to Internship Supervisors

In addition to the benefits of having student interns, participation in this program may also qualify internship supervisors for a tuition waiver for a course at UMass Amherst or Boston. This waiver is valid for approximately two years and can be transferred to another employee within your organization. For additional information, please read this document.