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A Partnership for Preparing People to Enter the Human Services Workforce

I was having dinner with a colleague who is the CEO of an organization that provides residential services for people with Intellectual Disabilities.  I asked about the challenges of finding qualified staff for the homes that his organization operates. The answer was predictable, he never has enough staff, turnover is high and many people that he hires come with limited training and skills though they are well meaning.  They want to do a good job, but they are often underprepared, putting an extra burden on the community agency.

In reviewing the research on the “crisis of insufficient staff in Human Services” there are many more jobs than available staff.  Too many people enter the field unprepared to do the jobs that they are hired to do.  This places an extra layer of work on hiring agencies who are already struggling to find adequate numbers of staff.

In a recent article published on LinkedIn,

“The staffing shortage in human services is a nationwide problem that affects a range of organizations, including social service agencies, mental health clinics, and nursing homes. According to a report by the National Council on Aging, the demand for home health aides and personal care assistants is expected to grow by 36% by 2028, while the supply of workers is projected to increase by only 7%. This gap between supply and demand is creating significant challenges for organizations that provide critical services to vulnerable populations”

In 2022 Fedcap Inc., Serving Maine, was struggling to staff its statewide workforce development and case management services for low-income families and veterans in-need. It also recognized that other human service agencies in Maine were experiencing the same challenges. Fedcap's Director of Education, Dr. Lisa Vermette, PhD. approached NOHS about working together to create an online training program that would provide those interested in human services with foundational training with credentials for careers in human services. 

Envesti Solutions, an organization that creates and provides online training for Human Services workers and assists organizations in meeting their required training obligations to employees, was approached to gauge their interest in being a part of the project.  They signed on and a partnership to create this online training was formed.

The recipients of the training come from the Fedcap Inc., Serving Maine Career Development Program (Industry Specific Power of Possible: Health and Human Services).  The students in this program are comprised of an equal mix:

  1. Those entering the workforce for the first time (maybe young single mothers)
  2. Entering the U.S. Workforce (most with experience or advanced degrees as foreign-trained health care workers: Nurses, health aides, etc.)
  3. Experienced in U.S. workforce
  4. Experienced but decided to change career pathways (formally working in customer service)

All participants are receiving TANF and are working towards self-sufficiency. All the participants have voluntarily chosen to take one of Fedcap career training programs and in this instance decided that health and human services is a good fit for them.

All participants engage in a three-week exploration program, students look at the industry history, craft resumes, take the Careerscope and meet local employers in the field for networking events.

Many if not a large majority of the participants have little to no background in Health and HS.  And although people are interested in this type of work, they are often unprepared for the jobs in the community that are available.

Therefore, what Fedcap Inc., Serving Maine has run into when making these job placements was a lack of basic skills/understanding of the job applicants in the HUS field. Because of this reality Human Service Certificate/Training program was created.

Upon Completion of the online training program, students will receive a certification acknowledging successful mastery of the content in the course.

  • Module 1: Community and Foundation History
  • Module 2: Working with Families in Need
  • Module 3: Empowering and Advocating for Families
  • Module 4: Special Populations
  • Module 5: Navigating Conflict and the Importance of Self-Care

Upon successful completion, learners will embody the values that make up a successful Human Services Professional and may qualify for several positions such as:

  • Direct Service Positions
    • Housing Support Staff
    • Administrative Coordinator
    • Activities Specialist
  • Case Worker Positions
    • Adult Case Manager
    • Re-Entry Services
    • Anti-Trafficking Services

Participants will be granted a 1-year membership with the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) to support their continued growth and development.

The program is designed to be online, and self-paced.  It will help Human Service Organizations in Maine who are experiencing a staffing shortage have accessed to more qualified and trained entry level workers.

The bureau of labor statistic projects that the Health Human Service sector will have job growth ranging of about 6% over the next decade, and that some specific job categories in the grouping will experience job growth as high as 22%.  In fact, the job designation entitled, Social and Human Service Assistants will experience 12.5% growth over this period and requires potential employees to enter with a HS diploma.

We are excited and enthused about the training program created and hope it can be a model program that positively impacts the Human Service Sector and the lives of those who complete the program.

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