Friday, February 19, 2010

FEC Receives $5 Million Grant for Health Care Jobs

U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (left), and FEC President and CEO Clyde McQueen (right) held a news conference last Friday announcing a major grant of nearly 5 million dollars coming to the metro. The two shook hands after announcing this will add more jobs and training in the healthcare field for the metro. (Picture from KC Hispanic News)

Reprinted from KC Hispanic News

By Joe Arce and Debra DeCoster
FEBRUARY 18, 2010

Health care is a profession that is growing. As the population ages, predictions are that our society will need a large staff of health care workers to assist people who are living in managed care facilities, nursing homes, or who are in hospital. As the senior population grows, our society will have to have a growing workforce to care for their needs.

Last week, the federal government awarded a grant to the Kansas City Full Employment Council (FEC) to train the unemployed and under-employed for jobs in the health care field. “I was on the phone with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and she was very excited about making the announcement that a significant grant was coming to Kansas City,” said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.

The FEC was awarded $5 million in stimulus money for a new program to train individuals in the health care industry. The FEC received one of 55 awards that were given nationally. “It was awarded competitively which means that the proposal developed by Clyde McQueen and his staff was superior to just about every other proposal in the country, and when you look at the proposal that was developed and the inclusiveness you can understand why it caught the attention of the federal government,” said Cleaver.

The grant is part of the Recovery Act Initiative to fund workplace development projects that promote economic growth by preparing workers for careers.

Although the FEC received the grant it is a bi-state program that will be available to those in Missouri and Kansas. The Labor Department awarded $200 million in health care and high growth stimulus grants last week.

The stimulus money is good news to citizens in Missouri as the FEC is beginning to take names of people who are interested in enrolling in the training program for future health care professionals.

“We have a lot of people who are aging and going into managed care facilities and we are trying to address that. We have the Kansas City region, it is known primarily as a major health care hub and we want to meet those needs, and most important, it is going to be a focus for all the unemployed in our region and this is a way for us to train them for the long term,” said Clyde McQueen, FEC CEO.

The training courses for health care jobs will be on demand courses. Individuals wishing to take the course will not have to wait for a semester to begin.

The time line for the courses will depend on the health care field the individual would like to enter. As a phlebotomist or a medical technician it could take six to twelve weeks for training. A person who is currently an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) and would like to become an RN (Registered Nurse) training could take two years.

The stimulus money will also help individuals that want a health care career with tuition. “We know that some people will have problems trying to keep their rent up or trying to figure out how they will pay their bills and care for their children. The bulk of the grant money will go to tuition payments for college or vocational schools,” said McQueen.

“This is a high growth area. What the labor department is doing is pumping $226 million into high growth areas. It doesn’t make sense for us to put money into something that is not going to be growing in the future. As Americans live longer there is going to be a greater need for health care workers and that is exactly what this project will do,” stated Cleaver.

Grant recipients are expected to work in conjunction with a diverse range of partners, including labor organizations, employers and workforce investment boards. The FEC has joined with partners Kansas City Metropolitan Health Care Council, the Kansas City Area Nurse Executives, the Kansas City Greater Chamber of Commerce, Health Care Foundation of Kansas City, the Collegiate Nurse Educators of Kansas City, and the United Services Community Action Agency Work Force and the Work Force Investment Board of Kansas City Local Area 3, along with the metropolitan area community colleges, to get the health care program rolling within a month of receiving the grant. Training will be conducted locally and it is tied to jobs that will be available to individuals entering the health care field.

“We have employers who have said we have jobs and we need to have people to meet the jobs that we have. We have employers identified, we just need to get people trained to enter the health care field,” said McQueen.