Officials from SUNY Schenectady and Schenectady ARC (pictured above with Direct Support Professionals who are Schenectady ARC employees and apprentices) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a new Direct Support Professional (DSP) Certificate/Apprenticeship Program.
SUNY Schenectady will serve as the lead campus for Schenectady ARC employees to obtain a Direct Support Professional Certificate and apply credits toward an associate’s degree - tuition free. This is the first program of its kind in the Capital Region and is the first time that Schenectady ARC has had a program for its employees with related instruction at a local college to obtain a DSP certificate.
“We are pleased to deepen our partnership with Schenectady ARC to include its new apprenticeship program,” said Dr. Steady Moono, President of SUNY Schenectady. “Direct care workers are critical to our health care system and we applaud Schenectady ARC’s decision to not only support apprenticeships in this area, but also its decision to support the development of its DSP professionals in our certificate program. Thank you to both SUNY and New York State’s Department of Labor for its support of expanded apprenticeship opportunities like this one.”
Schenectady ARC was recently approved by the NYS Department of Labor as a registered DSP Apprenticeship Program, and they will act as the designated sponsor. Participants in the DSP Certificate Program at SUNY Schenectady will also become a DSP apprentice and receive enhanced on-the-job training from an experienced Schenectady ARC DSP “journeyworker” (a.k.a., mentor). Nine employees from Schenectady ARC have been accepted into the program at SUNY Schenectady for its inaugural year.
“Across the state, providers like Schenectady ARC are struggling to find qualified Direct Support Professionals to work in our programs,” said Kirk Lewis, Executive Director for Schenectady ARC. “By combining the new Certificate program with the support provided to apprentice workers, new and existing employees at Schenectady ARC will be able to get trained as a Direct Support Professional, earn college credits, and build a career path at Schenectady ARC. This will provide a tremendous incentive for anyone who wants to make a difference in someone's life and, at the same time, start their college career, to come and work at Schenectady ARC.”
Internally, Schenectady ARC branded the program “College for Me” as a new agency benefit designed to help Schenectady ARC employees develop their knowledge and skills as a Direct Support Professional, while paving the way toward a college education. Participants in the “College for Me” program are eligible to transfer 25 credits into up to five different associate’s degree programs at SUNY Schenectady, valued at $5,000 worth of free tuition. They are expected to complete the DSP certificate program within three years. Canale describes it as a “win-win” for Schenectady ARC to keep its employees, and for the College to be able to develop programs that meet the needs of its community.