Submitted by Karla Procopio
CSIU Workforce Outreach Specialist
Nothing should get in the way of someone wanting to fulfill his or her dream of pursuing a career in healthcare.
Enter the Work Attributes Toward Careers in Health (WATCH) Project, a grant program that supports its participants as they enter or advance along a healthcare career pathway. At no cost to them, participants receive a variety of academic and support services that help them become successful in a dynamic career that pays a life-sustaining wage.
“With the WATCH Project, we provide a two-generation approach to services. We recognize that when families have access to education, career pathways, economic supports, adequate health services, and support networks, families will be self-sufficient. Schools will have successful students, and employers will have successful employees,” explained Katherine Vastine, program manager.
The program supports those pursuing nursing occupations, including direct care workers, certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and has recently added two more training options — phlebotomy and sterile processing. Each occupation is valuable on its own, or for those advancing on a healthcare career pathway can be a credential from which they continue to build.
“The WATCH Project receives applications from individuals with various backgrounds and interests,” said Vastine. “Some are looking to start a career in healthcare, such as a CNA, while others are already in the field and want an additional credential such as phlebotomy or sterile processing technician. Our program helps them overcome, if not eliminate, the barriers that prevented them from pursuing their dream.”
To get started in the program, an application process is required. After enrolled, participants develop career goals with the help of their assigned career coordinator. Their career coordinator provides support when determining training program options and applying for financial aid. They help identify and leverage community resources to support participants and their family.
“Our career coordinators understand that no two participants are the same, and they are trained to navigate unique pathways,” Vastine said. “They teach participants how to advocate for services and navigate “systems” so that when they exit the program, they have the knowledge to be self-sufficient by supporting themselves and their families.”
To qualify for the program, individuals must have a high school diploma or GED, be eligible for federal benefits, meet income guidelines, and live in one of the eleven participating counties. WATCH Project staff assists with completing background checks, drug screenings, and physical exams, all of which are financially covered by the WATCH Project.
“Preparing for and securing healthcare employment is the focus of the WATCH Project,” Vastine said. “We provide training for employment that not only serves our participants well but also the employers who hire them.”
When preparing for employment, WATCH participants work in teams to improve cooperation skills, attend peer support meetings, mock interviews, and participate in job shadowing experiences. The WATCH Project staff works with employers to satisfy and meet their demand for qualified, dedicated employees. Once employed, WATCH Project participants are offered supportive services for several months before exiting the project, easing them into self-sufficiency.
If you are interested in transforming your life by pursuing a career in one of the occupations supported by the WATCH Project, apply online at http://www.csiu.org/watch or call 570-246-5944. You can follow success stories on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/csiuwatchproject/
The WATCH Project is a Health Profession Opportunity Grants program funded by the Administration for Children and Families through the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is administered by the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit in Milton.
The WATCH Project is a Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and is administered by the CSIU. HPOG is a study funded by the federal government which is being conducted to determine how these training opportunities help people improve their skills and find better jobs. During the study, all new eligible applicants will be selected by lottery to participate in these training opportunities. Not all eligible applicants will be selected to participate in these opportunities.