The National Certification Council for Activity Professionals was the brainchild of several activity pioneers in the 1980’s. With the requirement of activity services mandated in the federal register in 1974, leaders within the National Association of Activity Professionals saw the need for a national credentialing standard. In October of 1986, that standard was introduced through the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals. Three levels of certification were introduced at that time, including Activity Assistant Certified, Activity Director Certified and Activity Consultant Certified. A grandfathering period was introduced and maintained until 1990. From the beginning to this day, NCCAP certification requires experience, academic education and continuing education.
The Activity Director Provisionally Certified level of certification was introduced in January, 1995. This track was designed for individuals who were working toward ADC certification and had met three of five required components. It was meant for the individual was making the commitment to complete the remaining two components within a designated time period.
By 1998, NCCAP membership had grown by leaps and bounds. The NCCAP News was introduced and mailed to all members three times a year which was increased to four times a year in 2000. The NCCAP web site was designed and available at that time as well. The NCCAP Mission statement was created and has guided many decisions of the board since its adoption. (The National Certification Council for Activity Professionals is a credentialing body which sets standards and criteria for those working to meet the leisure needs of those in their care. NCCAP sets the following goals as means to achieve its mission:* directly provide opportunities for and/or information about educational offerings thereby enabling its members and potential members to pursue professional development. * educate on behalf of its membership on issues regarding credentialing in the political and industry spheres.)
By 2001, the demands and expectations of our profession had grown. In response, NCCAP reviewed and revised the standards associated with the Activity Director Certified level of certification. Increasing the requirements for academic education and work experience raised the standard of the certified activity director which would better prepare the professional to meet the growing requirements for individualized and therapeutic programming.
In 2001, the Modular Education Program for Activity Professional was introduced as well as the Standards for Professional Preparation in Activity Services. The MEPAP was the first national standard for education of the activity professional. This course is meant to introduce consistent standards and practices for the activity professional. In order to teach the MEPAP, all instructors were required to apply for pre-approval which would ensure the national standards were maintained. The MEPAP was revised to the MEPAP second edition in 2004, strengthening the training materials. In 2002, completion of MEPAP Part I was mandated for the ADC level of certification and in 2007, the MEPAP, 2nd Edition (which is completion of part I and II) was mandated for the ADC level of certification.
From NCCAP’s inception in 1986 until 2002, the application fees remained the same. In 2002, NCCAP introduced an increase of $10 in renewal fees which remains the same since that time. NCCAP certification remains a very cost competitive certification. It is not uncommon to pay over $100 per year to maintain a certification status through some organizations.
In 2012, the NCCAP national exam was introduced. The exam was a collaborative work of many MEPAP instructors over several years. The end result was introduced in January, 2012, with mandatory passing of the proctored exam at a testing site introduced as the final component to obtain the ADC. The national exam strengthens the NCCAP standard and ensures the activity professional has an understanding of the required knowledge for the profession.
Throughout the years, many activity professionals have been elected to the board and have made the decisions, in coordination with the NCCAP Executive Director, related to the direction and growth of our profession. The board consistently reviews the standards of practice and guiding principles to ensure NCCAP remains on the right path that our founding activity professionals established.
The future of NCCAP remains bright with continued engagement through collaborative education at the NCCAP symposium which was introduced in 2009, expansion into social media and exploring our international growth.