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Workforce Initiative Co-Sponsors “Quality Jobs/Quality Care” Forum

May 16, 2011

On the morning of Wednesday, May 11th, The Community Foundation’s Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, in collaboration with the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers and Washington Area Women’s Foundation, sponsored the second in a four-part series of forums titled, “Quality Jobs/Quality Care.” 

Direct care workers play a critical role in allowing older adults to age with dignity and independence, providing vital day-to-day, hands-on support that is a lifeline for those who depend on their services. The Greater Washington region faces a potential shortage of workers who have expertise in caring for older adults. To address this need, community colleges and nonprofits in the region are developing new programs to expand the number of certified nursing assistants, home health aides, licensed practical nurses, and other allied health professionals. At the same time, worker advocates are exploring strategies to improve working conditions and wages for these critical care providers. 

This month’s event focused on promising practices and challenges related to training a long-term care workforce. Judith Berman, Deputy Director of DC Appleseed, provided an overview of the direct care workforce.  Her presentation was followed by a panel of regional experts, which included: 

 *   Judy Carver, Program Director, Montgomery College Allied Health Program

 *   Dr. Charlene Dukes, President, Prince George’s Community College

 *   Marla Lahat, Executive Director/President, Home Care Partners

 *   Stephen C. Rupp, Healthcare Business Development Director, Workforce Development, Northern Virginia Community College

 *   Connie Spinner, Associate Dean for Workforce Development and Community Outreach, Community College of DC

 *   Dr. Robert Templin, President, Northern Virginia Community College

 *   Aracelly Watts, Workforce Program Manager, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School

 Among the key points made by the panelists: 

* One of the most important ways to ensure that direct care workers are able to advance to family-supporting wages is to create career pathways that link related occupations and training. While, historically, there has been a strong emphasis on career pathways leading to RN nursing careers, there is a need to create other options for individuals with other interests and talents. 

* Many prospective direct care providers have difficulty completing training or retaining employment due to personal challenges such as child care and transportation issues. One of the most successful strategies to address this challenge is for community-based organizations and community colleges to partner, with CBOs providing counseling and supportive services while the community colleges provide vocational skills training. More funding is needed to support the development of these partnerships in our region.

* Adult literacy is also a significant barrier to preparing workers for careers in this field. Programs that combine adult literacy and direct care skills training in the same classroom show particular promise for helping workers quickly advance into careers. 

For more information about how your charitable contributions can help to ensure that the Washington metropolitan region has a high-skilled long-term care workforce, please contact Sarah Oldmixon, Director of Workforce Initiatives, at soldmixon@cfncr.org or (202)973-2519.

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