SCHENECTADY, NY (September 10, 2019) – Earlier today, officials from SUNY Schenectady and Schenectady ARC gathered to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for a new Direct Support Professional (DSP) Certificate/Apprenticeship Program.
Those in attendance included: Dr. Steady Moono, President of SUNY Schenectady, Sean Maguire, Vice President for Workforce Development and Community Education at SUNY Schenectady, Kirk Lewis, Executive Director of Schenectady ARC, Jane H. Canale, Associate Executive Director of Human Resources and Support Services at Schenectady ARC. DSP Apprenticeship/Certificate Program participants Rebecca Conover, Sarah Laird, Sophia Moya and James Papaliosas were also present.
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.
“Schenectady ARC is very pleased to be collaborating with SUNY Schenectady and the Department of Labor on this innovative new program. Across the state, providers like Schenectady ARC are struggling to find qualified Direct Support Professionals to work in our programs. 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,” said Kirk Lewis, Executive Director for Schenectady ARC. “We believe this program will be a model for others to follow. 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.”
The first Sponsor for a NYS DOL Apprenticeship in the DSP trade was in 2004. This program came about after Schenectady ARC reached out to a local representative of the NYS DOL Apprenticeship Program and subsequently applied and identified the available related instruction at SUNY Schenectady. Working with ARC and SCCC, the NYSDOL was able to get the program up and running this fall (2019) and also connect them with additional resources that were available.
“Schenectady ARC was an amazing team to work with on establishing this program. They had a great deal of enthusiasm and were always able to answer questions in a timely manner. It was easy to see the value they place in their workforce and how they can vision the apprenticeship model to help build the skills set needed for a successful DSP workforce,” said Roberta Reardon, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Labor.
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. They also envision it as a great marketing tool for recruiting and retaining DSPs for their agency and increasing their value against competitors in the same field. For several years now, it’s been a struggle to maintain a stable workforce in human services.
“Schenectady ARC is so grateful to collaborate with these wonderful partners to bring this great new opportunity to our employees. This program will help Schenectady ARC make strides to professionalize this important career. We are excited to watch our nine participants advance their career.” Jane Canale, Associate Executive Director, Human Resources and Support Services at Schenectady ARC.
Participants of the “College for Me” program are eligible to transfer 25 credits into up to five different associate 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.
“SUNY Schenectady is excited to take this next step along the apprenticeship pathway with Schenectady ARC,” said Sean Maguire, Vice President for Workforce Development and Community Education at SUNY Schenectady. “Since we embarked on this new initiative with SUNY and New York State, we’ve supported more than 300 Direct Support Professional pre-apprentices. We’re ready to support Schenectady ARC as it advances some of its pre-apprentices into a full-fledged apprenticeship program in partnership with our college.”
Currently there are three other colleges and a BOCES program that are approved to provide instruction for a NYS DOL Registered DSP Apprenticeship program: Adirondack Community College, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, College of Direct Support and BOCES- St. Lawrence-Lewis.
About Schenectady ARC
Founded in 1952, Schenectady ARC provides person-centered services and supports to over 1000 individuals and families with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Capital Region. Schenectady ARC brings staff, families, and the community together to encourage dreams and respond to each person’s life choices. Schenectady ARC is a chapter of NYSARC, Inc. and a member of the Arc of the United States.
About SUNY Schenectady
Founded in 1969, SUNY Schenectady County Community College (SUNY Schenectady) is one of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, the largest comprehensive university system in the United States. SUNY Schenectady is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Through transferable degree and certificate programs, affordable tuition, strong student support services and a personalized approach to learning, SUNY Schenectady provides students with a regionally acclaimed education that empowers them to take the next step in their lives. SUNY Schenectady offers degree and certificate programs through the:
- School of Hotel, Culinary Arts, and Tourism
- School of Music
- Division of Business, Criminal Justice, and Law
- Division of Liberal Arts
- Division of Math, Science, Technology, and Health
SUNY Schenectady also offers an array of Workforce Development and Community Education services and non-credit courses. Learn more by visiting: www.sunysccc.edu.