UNC Teams with RHA Howell, Inc., on Workforce Investment Network

Graduate students will help implement a career-ladder program in Lenoir County.

January 12, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) — RHA Howell, Inc., a 35-year-old not-for-profit organization that serves people with disabilities across North Carolina, has secured a team of eight graduate students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of City and Regional planning to study how to implement RHA Howell’s WIN program – Workforce Investment Network – and other workforce issues in allied healthcare in Lenoir County. Lenoir County is a “Tier 1” county, meaning it is designated as economically challenged.

The students will participate in an Economic Development Workshop Class that will be conducted throughout the Spring 2010 semester. The Community-Campus Partnership at UNC, which provides campus resources to economically distress communities in North Carolina, is funding the workshop.

On Friday, January 15, the student team and workshop professor Dr. Nichola Lowe will travel to La Grange, NC, in Lenoir County to tour RHA Howell’s Bear Creek Center and corporate office. Bear Creek is an intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded (ICF/MR). The students will meet the Bear Creek staff, learn more about the WIN program, and talk to individuals who are presently in the program.

An overview of the workshop states: “Health care services represent an important growth sector for Eastern North Carolina. This reflects the region’s aging population and growing popularity as a permanent retirement destination. Yet, quality employment opportunities within this sector are severely restricted for workers and job seekers who lack college degrees or related health-care credentials.

“Therefore, in order to enhance career development opportunities, entry-level workers need greater access to training and educational programs that result in better paying and more rewarding jobs in the health care field. Such programs will not only benefit North Carolina’s struggling economy, but will also help to resolve a growing skills shortage in our national health care industry.”

RHA Howell created the WIN program to expand its exisiting workforce’s skill sets and to recruit new job-seekers into the health care field.

“Through WIN, we recruit, retain and develop our employees while giving them the opportunity to choose their own career path,” said Mark Spano, director of philanthropy at RHA Howell. “Employees in the WIN Program can choose to develop a career in the clinical, medical, educational, operational or administrative support fields.”

The organization is also using the WIN program as a vehicle for restructuring its health care services to encourage greater independent living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“This transformation in service requires health care workers to have a broad set of clinical skills and knowledge,” Spano added.

RHA Howell chose Lenoir County as the focus of the UNC workshop because it is the largest private health care provider in the county.  

RHA Howell operates the WIN program in collaboration with North Carolina Community Colleges, East Carolina University, the North Carolina Providers Council, and The Arc of North Carolina. For more information on WIN, go to www.workforceinvestment.org.

For more information on RHA Howell and the many other programs it operates, visit www.rhahowell.org.

About RHA Howell, Inc.:

RHA Howell is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that has been helping people with disabilities and special needs, and their families, make choices to live more independently for more than 35 years. Integrity, high standards for quality, hard work are at the core of every RHA Howell disability assistance program. Proven leaders in caring for people, RHA Howell, Inc. is a pioneering force in the field of human services, particularly supporting infants and children. For more information, go to www.rhahowell.org.

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