Online Program

Addressing systemic barriers to recruitment and training of qualified entry-level direct service workers

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nadine Edris, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME
Amy Johnson, M.S.Ed., Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation, University of Southern Maine, Gorham, ME
The Maine context for the PHCAST project differs from the other five grantees as Maine has had a statewide training and certification system for Personal Support Specialists (PSS) since 2003. Maine's PHCAST work focuses on improving alignment between the PSS training system and training for other entry-level direct service workers providing services to consumers with mental health and intellectual disabilities. Maine's approach includes developing a competency-based approach and expanding access through blended on-line and traditional classroom instruction for direct service workers. Data collected consists of exam scores, job placement rates, and short-term job retention. Unlike other states, because of an existing statewide training system, Maine can compare participant results to those of trainees in existing pathways. This allows for comparison of the pilot training results to the existing pathways. Maine has extended substantial effort to capture implementation issues and document ongoing stakeholder conversations that are critical to retooling the state infrastructure for worker development across multiple related job titles. Preliminary data has illuminated some of the challenges in recruiting and retaining direct service workers, particularly in rural areas. Data has also shown some of the structural barriers to aligning training requirements across job titles that currently operate autonomously, and thus require support from multiple stakeholders. Our presentation will focus on early lessons learned in an environment of statewide-required training. Particular attention will be given to describing the tension between worker recruitment in this shortage field and high-stakes exit exam requirements, as well as other systems barriers.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related education
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe challenges in entry-level direct service worker training in rural contexts, where workers may serve multiple consumer populations and require multiple certificates; Discuss the challenges of developing high-stakes competency assessments in a shortage field; and Evaluate transferability of Maine's lessons after a decade of required training to participants' own policy contexts.

Keyword(s): Personal Assistance, Training

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have served as the USM Project Director for the duration of the PHCAST award, and have served as Project Director on multiple projects funded by federal and state agencies related to health care worker training and development.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.