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Workforce Development Month: ARPA investments in the public health workforce

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    Workforce Development Month: ARPA investments in the public health workforce

    Currently, our hospitals and health care systems face acute staffing shortages that could jeopardize access to quality care in the communities they serve. Although the workforce challenges predate the COVID-19 pandemic, it has further exacerbated the issues plaguing our nation’s health care systems. The sharp short-term spike in demand for medical attention, combined with the quickly depleting morale and health – both mental and physical – of the current workforce, has worsened disparities and systemic health care delivery while jeopardizing the lives of millions of Americans.

    Recent estimates forecast a projected shortfall of 3.2 million health care workers by 2026. These workforce shortages — combined with an aging population, and a rise in chronic diseases and behavioral health conditions — all contribute to the need for intentional, long-term minded investments so that America’s health care workforce can ensure access to quality care and be appropriately prepared for future demand.

    Since the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), America’s counties have been making deliberate Recovery Funds investments to not only help address the immediate health needs brought on by the pandemic, but to help strengthen our health care workforce to mitigate future impacts and build out the necessary human infrastructure to provide communities with quality, accessible health care.

    In celebration of Workforce Development Month, the National Association Of Counties (NACo) is highlighting critical investments counties have made using their ARPA funds in workforce development. This week, NACo is highlighting workforce investments counties have made to enhance and expand our public health workforce.

    Ramsey County, Minn.

    Ramsey County invested $1 million of its Recovery Funds in its Public Health Career Pathways Program to increase its public health workforce and give low-wage earners a pathway to careers as registered nurses or community health workers.

    Preference is given to applicants who live in Ramsey County, are single parents, receive public assistance, and/or are a member of an underrepresented group in the public health workforce. The program provides:

    • College preparatory coaching and mentoring
    • Reimbursement of tuition
    • Expenses for transportation and/or childcare, and other related academic costs
    • Wages to allow participants to enroll full-time
    • Paid work time to complete coursework

    Erie County, N.Y.

    With $1.6 million of Erie County’s initial Recovery Fund allocation received in 2021, and modeled off the federal Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program, Erie county created the Erie County Healthcare Careers Program to provide educational training grants of up to $10,000 for high-demand healthcare occupations including:

    • Registered Nurse
    • Licensed Practical Nurse
    • Physical Therapy Assistant
    • Radiological Technologist and
    • Respiratory Therapist

    To be eligible for assistance, recipients must either be a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipient or meet other low-income eligibility requirements, such as earning less than $25 per hour or $52,000 annually in their current employment, which is below Erie County’s Area Median Income (AMI).

    When the Erie County Healthcare Careers program began in October 2021, the county hoped to enroll 2,000 students by October 1, 2022. However, the program became so successful with 150 students enrolled in December 2021 and a growing waiting list, Erie County dedicated an additional $1.35 million. Since July 2022, 320 Erie County residents have successfully completed the program.

    Maricopa County, Ariz.

    Maricopa County has invested $14.5 million of its Recovery Funds into workforce development and job training programs, including $2.6 million into programs that specialize in healthcare workforce training.

    Specifically, the Banner Health Foundation received $1.24 million to expand its Career Pathways for Essential Frontline Healthcare Workers Program. Through this program, employees currently working in environmental services, culinary services, and patient transport positions are trained to learn the skills necessary for in-demand careers in healthcare with higher salaries, including medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, patient care assistants, and technician roles in behavioral health, central sterile processing, pharmacy, and education.

    A special emphasis is placed on educating and training employees who may not have graduated from high school due to access, language barriers, homelessness, or other socioeconomic factors.

    In an effort to get more nursing school students the hands-on experience they need, Maricopa County also utilized ARPA funds to launch the Graduate Nurse-Practice Readiness Pilot Project. While more than 2,000 nurses graduate each year in Maricopa County, many of them aren’t immediately practice-ready because of the limited availability of clinical placements.

    As part of the county’s pilot program, 50 senior nursing students will spend their last six weeks prior to graduation working one on one with a nurse preceptor in one of five professional nursing environments, including hospitals and community entities.  The pilot program will help with the costs associated with the preceptors and grants for nursing students.

    Hildago County, Texas

    Hildago County has invested $2 million of its Recovery Funds to fund salaries for nursing instructors in an effort to increase capacity, and therefore, the number of nurses graduating from South Texas College and entering the county’s public health workforce.  With additional funding for an expanded staff, South Texas College now plans to increase the class of graduating nurses from 463 to 500.

    Texas Workforce Commissioners, along with South Texas College and local hospitals, also hope to increase capacity to fund students’ clinical rotations and possibly develop an accessible childcare option to ease the burden for working parents.

    Additionally, Hildalgo County invested $400,000 of their Recovery Funds in the Valley Grande Institute Nursing program to increase supplemental faculty positions and expand class sizes. The funds also enabled the nursing program to invest in new resources for the training of additional nurses, and ultimately provided additional support for the county’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts.

    Erie County, Penn.

    Erie County invested $100,000 of their Recovery Funds into the creation of the Erie County Emergency Medical Services Scholarship Fund. The program will be administered and marketed at the Erie Community Foundation, which is home to over 800 endowments operating under the administrative umbrella of a single public charity.

    Applicants eligible for the program include minority individuals, low-income/income qualifying individuals, individuals who have experienced career or academic displacement due to COVID-19, and/or an individual who is currently volunteering or working with an emergency services agency and is looking to advance their career.

    Scholarship funding may be used to pay for EMR Certification ($600), EMT or AEMT Certification ($1,500), and/or Paramedic Certification ($8,000). Scholarship recipients who achieve EMT, AEMT, or EMR certification MUST secure and maintain an EMS job in Erie County for at least one year. Otherwise, the scholarship will need to be paid back in full. Scholarship recipients who achieve Paramedic certification MUST secure and maintain an EMS job in Erie County for at least two years; otherwise, 50 percent of the scholarship will need to be paid back. If certification is not possible (some scholarship recipients will fail out), the recipient can fulfill the work requirement by volunteering with an Erie County EMS agency for one year.

    To view more ways counties are investing their Recovery funds, you can view NACo’s Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker. Counties can participate in NACo’s Workforce Development series by sharing their ARPA investments in workforce development and job training through this link here.

    Currently, our hospitals and health care systems face acute staffing shortages that could jeopardize access to quality care in the communities they serve. Although the workforce challenges predate the COVID-19 pandemic, it has further exacerbated the issues plaguing our nation’s health care systems.
    2022-09-08
    Blog
    2022-09-08
Counties are continuing to utilize Recovery Funds to invest in workforce development to address critical healthcare workforce shortages Several counties have leveraged Recovery Funds to create new grants, job training programs, and improve the quality of healthcare in their counties

Currently, our hospitals and health care systems face acute staffing shortages that could jeopardize access to quality care in the communities they serve. Although the workforce challenges predate the COVID-19 pandemic, it has further exacerbated the issues plaguing our nation’s health care systems. The sharp short-term spike in demand for medical attention, combined with the quickly depleting morale and health – both mental and physical – of the current workforce, has worsened disparities and systemic health care delivery while jeopardizing the lives of millions of Americans.

Recent estimates forecast a projected shortfall of 3.2 million health care workers by 2026. These workforce shortages — combined with an aging population, and a rise in chronic diseases and behavioral health conditions — all contribute to the need for intentional, long-term minded investments so that America’s health care workforce can ensure access to quality care and be appropriately prepared for future demand.

Since the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), America’s counties have been making deliberate Recovery Funds investments to not only help address the immediate health needs brought on by the pandemic, but to help strengthen our health care workforce to mitigate future impacts and build out the necessary human infrastructure to provide communities with quality, accessible health care.

In celebration of Workforce Development Month, the National Association Of Counties (NACo) is highlighting critical investments counties have made using their ARPA funds in workforce development. This week, NACo is highlighting workforce investments counties have made to enhance and expand our public health workforce.

Ramsey County, Minn.

Ramsey County invested $1 million of its Recovery Funds in its Public Health Career Pathways Program to increase its public health workforce and give low-wage earners a pathway to careers as registered nurses or community health workers.

Preference is given to applicants who live in Ramsey County, are single parents, receive public assistance, and/or are a member of an underrepresented group in the public health workforce. The program provides:

  • College preparatory coaching and mentoring
  • Reimbursement of tuition
  • Expenses for transportation and/or childcare, and other related academic costs
  • Wages to allow participants to enroll full-time
  • Paid work time to complete coursework

Erie County, N.Y.

With $1.6 million of Erie County’s initial Recovery Fund allocation received in 2021, and modeled off the federal Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program, Erie county created the Erie County Healthcare Careers Program to provide educational training grants of up to $10,000 for high-demand healthcare occupations including:

  • Registered Nurse
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Radiological Technologist and
  • Respiratory Therapist

To be eligible for assistance, recipients must either be a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipient or meet other low-income eligibility requirements, such as earning less than $25 per hour or $52,000 annually in their current employment, which is below Erie County’s Area Median Income (AMI).

When the Erie County Healthcare Careers program began in October 2021, the county hoped to enroll 2,000 students by October 1, 2022. However, the program became so successful with 150 students enrolled in December 2021 and a growing waiting list, Erie County dedicated an additional $1.35 million. Since July 2022, 320 Erie County residents have successfully completed the program.

Maricopa County, Ariz.

Maricopa County has invested $14.5 million of its Recovery Funds into workforce development and job training programs, including $2.6 million into programs that specialize in healthcare workforce training.

Specifically, the Banner Health Foundation received $1.24 million to expand its Career Pathways for Essential Frontline Healthcare Workers Program. Through this program, employees currently working in environmental services, culinary services, and patient transport positions are trained to learn the skills necessary for in-demand careers in healthcare with higher salaries, including medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, patient care assistants, and technician roles in behavioral health, central sterile processing, pharmacy, and education.

A special emphasis is placed on educating and training employees who may not have graduated from high school due to access, language barriers, homelessness, or other socioeconomic factors.

In an effort to get more nursing school students the hands-on experience they need, Maricopa County also utilized ARPA funds to launch the Graduate Nurse-Practice Readiness Pilot Project. While more than 2,000 nurses graduate each year in Maricopa County, many of them aren’t immediately practice-ready because of the limited availability of clinical placements.

As part of the county’s pilot program, 50 senior nursing students will spend their last six weeks prior to graduation working one on one with a nurse preceptor in one of five professional nursing environments, including hospitals and community entities.  The pilot program will help with the costs associated with the preceptors and grants for nursing students.

Hildago County, Texas

Hildago County has invested $2 million of its Recovery Funds to fund salaries for nursing instructors in an effort to increase capacity, and therefore, the number of nurses graduating from South Texas College and entering the county’s public health workforce.  With additional funding for an expanded staff, South Texas College now plans to increase the class of graduating nurses from 463 to 500.

Texas Workforce Commissioners, along with South Texas College and local hospitals, also hope to increase capacity to fund students’ clinical rotations and possibly develop an accessible childcare option to ease the burden for working parents.

Additionally, Hildalgo County invested $400,000 of their Recovery Funds in the Valley Grande Institute Nursing program to increase supplemental faculty positions and expand class sizes. The funds also enabled the nursing program to invest in new resources for the training of additional nurses, and ultimately provided additional support for the county’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts.

Erie County, Penn.

Erie County invested $100,000 of their Recovery Funds into the creation of the Erie County Emergency Medical Services Scholarship Fund. The program will be administered and marketed at the Erie Community Foundation, which is home to over 800 endowments operating under the administrative umbrella of a single public charity.

Applicants eligible for the program include minority individuals, low-income/income qualifying individuals, individuals who have experienced career or academic displacement due to COVID-19, and/or an individual who is currently volunteering or working with an emergency services agency and is looking to advance their career.

Scholarship funding may be used to pay for EMR Certification ($600), EMT or AEMT Certification ($1,500), and/or Paramedic Certification ($8,000). Scholarship recipients who achieve EMT, AEMT, or EMR certification MUST secure and maintain an EMS job in Erie County for at least one year. Otherwise, the scholarship will need to be paid back in full. Scholarship recipients who achieve Paramedic certification MUST secure and maintain an EMS job in Erie County for at least two years; otherwise, 50 percent of the scholarship will need to be paid back. If certification is not possible (some scholarship recipients will fail out), the recipient can fulfill the work requirement by volunteering with an Erie County EMS agency for one year.

To view more ways counties are investing their Recovery funds, you can view NACo’s Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker. Counties can participate in NACo’s Workforce Development series by sharing their ARPA investments in workforce development and job training through this link here.

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    Economic Mobility Leadership Network

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    <p>Economic mobility refers to changes in an individual&rsquo;s economic status over a lifetime and across generations&mdash;usually measured in income.

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    <p>Responsible for all matters pertaining to housing, community and economic development, public works, and workforce development including the creation of affordable housing and housing options for different populations, residential,

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