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A Challenge to – and Opportunity for – the Region’s Health Care Industry

April 18, 2011

by Ben Murphy
Program Officer, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

As our rapidly growing region continues to recover from the economic downturn, we face huge challenges in providing high-quality education, jobs, and health care.  

In terms of health care specifically, we need more direct-care workers—such as certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and allied health professionals—if we are going to make sure that the region’s elderly population is afforded the care and respect they deserve.

Did you know that personal and home health aides are the second and third fastest-growing occupations in the nation today and, alongside nurse aides, constitute more than 3 million jobs across the United States?  It’s true.  Despite these facts, we are faced with a shortage of qualified workers to meet the increasing need of an aging population. While training community residents to help take on this challenge presents a key opportunity to address unemployment and health care simultaneously, training must also be paired with efforts to ensure that the quality of these jobs improves.

The average home care worker often copes with isolating and challenging work environments and earns just $7.31 per hour (a wage that actually declined in the last decade). One out of five is enrolled in public health insurance plans. With this job sector set to continue to grow rapidly in the coming years, ensuring competitive wages and good working conditions must be a priority.

Fortunately, the Greater Washington region is a leader in tackling these issues. The Community Foundation would like to invite you to learn more about local efforts to match those in need of work with those in need of caring support. Join us on May 11th from 9:30am to 12:00 pm at the offices of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 800, for Quality Jobs and Quality Care: Increasing the Supply of Professional Direct Care Workers, a forum co-sponsored by The Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation and Washington Grantmakers.  At this session, we will hear from local experts about how donors can support these critical efforts.

Judith Berman, Deputy Director, DC Appleseed, will present a demographic profile of the direct care workforce, explain the occupations that are needed, and discuss the variety of training programs currently found throughout the region. A panel discussion will follow highlighting specific training programs to help low-income people gain the skills needed to serve the aging population. Panelists include:

  • Connie Spinner, Associate Dean for Workforce Development and Community Outreach, Community College of DC
  • Dr. Charlene Dukes, President, Prince George’s Community College
  • Judy Carver, Program Director, Montgomery College Allied Health Program
  • Dr. Robert Templin, President, Northern Virginia Community College (invited)
  • Marla Lahat, Executive Director/President, Home Care Partners
  • Aracelly Watts, Workforce Program Manager, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
  • Karen Kinney (moderator), Program Officer, The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation

The event is open to all Community Foundation donors—we hope you will join us for this timely and important conversation. To register for this event, click here.

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