AFSCME behavioral health apprenticeship nets federal funding


AFSCME’s United We Heal program, which provides paid, on-the-job training for workers in the behavioral health field, will receive nearly $1.8 million in federal funding this year.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and former Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) requested the funding through the federal government spending bill Congress passed in December. The bill includes a system for “community project funding,” through which lawmakers can request grants for programs in their districts. Bonamici and Schrader each requested $892,000 for the training trust, for a total of $1.78 million. The spending bill became law Dec. 29.

The United We Heal Training Trust is a training nonprofit jointly overseen by union designees and representatives of participating employers. Those include Mid-Columbia Center for Living, Clatsop Behavioral Health, and Cascadia Health (formerly Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare).

The training trust administers two apprenticeship programs, for Qualified Mental Health Associate (QMHA) and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) credentials. Workers receive classroom education and on-the-job training, and at the end of the apprenticeship they take a test for certification administered by the Mental Health and Addiction Certification Board of Oregon.

In a statement announcing the grants, Bonamici said her request would fund pre-apprenticeship education and training for 60 participants to enter the behavioral health field, and apprenticeship opportunities for 60 additional participants to pursue the CADC certification.  



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