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How the WATCH Project supports those entering the health care field

Nothing should get in the way of someone wanting to fulfill his or her dream of pursuing a career in health care.

Enter the Work Attributes Toward Careers in Health Project, a grant program supporting participants as they enter or advance along a health care 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.

“We provide a two-generation approach to services,” explained Katherine Vastine, program manager. “We recognize that when families have access to education, career pathways, economic supports, adequate health services and support networks, families become self-sufficient.”

The program supports individuals pursuing health care occupations, including direct care workers, certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses, and it recently added two new training options: phlebotomist and sterile processing technician. Each occupation is valuable on its own, or for those advancing in a health care career, it can be a credential from which they continue to build.

“Our staff understands 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 support themselves and their families.”

To get started in the program, an application process is required. Once enrolled, participants develop goals with their career coordinator. Their career coordinator provides support when determining training program options and applying for financial aid. They help identify and leverage community resources, supporting participants and their family.

When preparing for employment, WATCH participants work together to improve cooperation skills, attend peer support meetings and mock interviews, and participate in job shadowing experiences. WATCH Project staff works with employers to satisfy their demand for qualified, dedicated employees. Once employed, WATCH participants are eligible to receive support services for several months before exiting the project, easing them into self-sufficiency.

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 11 participating counties. WATCH Project staff assists with completing background checks, drug screenings and physical exams, which are all financially covered by the WATCH Project.

For more information, apply online at www.csiu.org/watch or call 570-246-5944. You can follow success stories on Facebook at www.facebook.com/csiuwatchproject.

Karla Procopio is a workforce and outreach specialist with Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit.
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