February 12, 2010

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Governor John Lynch announced today that the University of New Hampshire (UNH) has been awarded $2,944,732 to develop a program that will train home- and community-based direct care workers, who provide hands-on care to elderly Americans as well as those with disabilities or chronic illnesses. The funding is part of the Health Care Sector and Other High Growth and Emerging Industries job training grant awards made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Shaheen wrote a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in support of UNH's application for this funding in January.   

"With an aging population, New Hampshire anticipates an increased demand for health and support services as well as heavier reliance on home- and community-based services," said Shaheen.  "This investment will create good jobs for New Hampshire while addressing a workforce shortage that threatens the quality of life in our state."

"This grant will help with our continuing efforts to put New Hampshire people back to work by providing training for careers in the health care industry, an important and growing industry in New Hampshire," said Lynch.

The grant funding will support a new workforce development strategy at UNH, entitled DirectConnect: Partnering to Expand and Train NH's Direct Care WorkforceDirectConnect will establish a tuition scholarship program to help support workers who enter training programs, develop career lattices to move trainees along specific career pathways, and promote peer mentoring, coaching, and distance learning opportunities.  Ultimately, DirectConnect aims to recruit, train, and place approximately 1,000 new hires in home- and community-based service careers. 

"This grant will allow the University of New Hampshire to help provide the state with a skilled, stable professional workforce prepared to meet the current and future needs for home and community based direct care workers," said Jan Nisbet, Senior Vice Provost for Research at UNH.  "I greatly appreciate the leadership and hard work from the university's Institute on Disability and the Institute on Health Policy and Practice in working with a wide range of partners in the state on this important initiative.  Direct care workers are the backbone of the long term care system and provide essential home and community based services to persons of all ages who have disabilities or chronic health conditions." 

As many industries experience layoffs and job losses, the health care industry remains a critical economic driver in our communities.  In addition, projected retirements for current health care workers will necessitate a pipeline of skilled individuals ready to enter health care occupations.  The Health Care and High Growth grant awards will foster long-term economic growth by helping states develop their health care work force and create new jobs.

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