Youth Agencies among Winners of Recovery Act-Funded Health Care Training Grants

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Several youth-serving agencies will share in $225 million worth of “health care and high growth” training grants the U.S. Department of Labor awarded recently through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Among the youth-serving agency winners is Berea Children’s Home and Family Services in Berea, Ohio, was chosen for a $4.9 million grant to expand and improve its North East Ohio Nurse Assistant Training Program, also known as NEO-NAT.

Alex Petrus, Berea’s vice president of advancement, said the grant essentially resurrected the nurse assistant training program, which had been defunded by the state last summer because of fiscal constraints.

“Now, with this funding, we’ll be able to kick it back up for the next three years,” Petrus said. “It couldn’t be better timing.”

Top Obama Administration officials plan to highlight similar program revitalizations as they visit Recovery Act-funded projects throughout the nation this week.

The NEO-NAT program run by Berea Children’s Home will train roughly 1,000 youths ages 16 through 24 for nursing assistant jobs in nursing homes, hospitals and in-home health care. Trainees must complete five weeks of training. They will also receive “intensive job placement and retention assistance” for at least six months after the initial training, according to program materials.

Petrus said a new component of the training program will focus on making certain the trainees have adequate literacy skills, even if they already have a high school diploma.

“Having a high school doesn’t necessarily mean literacy skills are where they should be, so we’re working on that by assessing them right away and determining what they need to become more employable,” Petrus said. “It’s not just getting a nursing assistant credential. It’s also making sure that they have the literacy skills.”

For non-high school graduates, the program will help them get a GED. The program will serve the unemployed and underemployed, displaced workers, veterans and high school dropouts.

Petrus said the $4.9 million his organization got for the NEO-NAT program under the Recovery Act is more than what the program had received from the state, but didn’t have exact figures.

He said NEO-NAT has proven highly effective, with 89 percent of 500 trainees completing the program, and 99 percent of those being hired at jobs that pay $8.50 to $12 an hour, plus health insurance.

Berea will team with several partner agencies and area colleges.

Another youth-serving agencies among the 55 grantees that were chosen for the Recovery Act-funded grants is Centerstone of Tennessee Inc. in Nashville, which will receive $5 million to train 600 people, including high school dropouts and young adults, for health-care related jobs, such as certified nurse aide, radiological technician and emergency medical technician positions..

For a full listing of the grantees, visit http://www.doleta.gov/factsheet/ARRA_Health_and_Other.pdf.