Missouri is launching an apprenticeship program to expand talent pools for direct support professionals who work with people with developmental disabilities.
The Show-Me State, like many others, faces a severe shortage of direct care workers. To meet this need, the Missouri Talent Pathways program was recently approved by the US Department of Labor.
Duane Shumate, state coordinator of employment and community engagement in the Developmental Disabilities Division of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, said he mixes on-the-job mentoring with teaching. technical, with participants eventually becoming Certified Direct Support Professionals.
“It has a huge impact on families and people with disabilities, as families have to take time off from work to provide care because there is no adequate workforce,” Shumate explained. “It just creates a lot of risk and concern by having such a high turnover in this area right now.”
In addition to reducing the impact of high turnover rates, Shumate pointed out that another goal is to ensure that apprentices are well trained in national best practices to help people with developmental disabilities achieve their own goals and personal results.
Jessica Bax, director of the division, said Missouri is approaching the labor shortage from several angles. She noted that Governor Mike Parson supports increasing reimbursement rates for direct care providers, as well as apprenticeship programs and other talent pipeline programs.
“One of the biggest benefits of having an apprenticeship program as a talent pool is the proven permanency benefits,” Bax pointed out. “Individuals tend to stay in employment, and one of the biggest impacts on the success of the individuals we serve is consistency.”
Department of Labor data shows that three years after completing an apprenticeship, people are often still employed at a retention rate of almost 90%.
Bax added that the program is the first of its kind and other states are looking to Missouri to replicate the model.
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