OCTAE Connection - Issue 228 - April 4, 2015

OCTAE Newsletter

April 9, 2015

Health Profession Opportunity Grants Announced for TANF Recipients

The Office of Family Assistance in the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently announced  it is accepting applications for its Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program.  This program provides education and training to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income individuals.  Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, these grants will support demonstration projects in well-paying health care field occupations that are expected to “either experience labor shortages or be in high demand.” Funds under this project may also be used for child care, case management, and other supportive services, as appropriate.

The healthcare sector is projected to grow significantly over the next decade, and strongly contribute to regional economies. As detailed in the grant notice, the absence of qualified workers in this sector threatens the quality and availability of medical care and the economic stability and growth potential of communities in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

Program participants will be able to select from and enroll in many training and education programs that result in an employer or industry recognized healthcare certificate or degree. Training programs will take place in a variety of settings and formats, including traditional classrooms, the workplace, and distance learning.

Potential applicants under this funding opportunity must be able to demonstrate strong partnerships with health care employers and a strong labor market demand for the occupations for which they are providing education and training. HPOG programs may also include other partners that provide resources or expertise to better coordinate services and improve outcomes for program participants, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, legal aid, and services funded by ACF (i.e., Head Start, child care, domestic violence prevention, and refugee resettlement programs). All funded grantees are required to coordinate with the agencies responsible for administering their states’ TANF programs, local workforce investment boards, state workforce investment boards, and state apprenticeship agencies.

Applications are due on May 29, 2015. Interested parties are encouraged to access the full announcement and visit the HPOG website to apply and to learn more about this program. Entities serving adult learners are encouraged to review and share information of this funding opportunity.  

Initiatives in Community College Developmental Education

The evolution of developmental education for students transitioning to college is the topic of columns in this and the next issues of OCTAE Connection.  About two decades ago, community colleges regularly started admitting students not prepared for college-level work through an “open admissions” initiative.  Open admissions were designed to afford all students a second chance at enhancing their academic preparation in order to pursue a college degree and/or to prepare themselves for the workforce.

From the perspective of the enrolling students and the institutions, the open admissions initiative was a success.  The percentage of students who enrolled and continue to enroll in postsecondary education has increased.  However, the percentage of these enrollees who complete a certificate or a two-year degree has not increased proportionately.   Too many of these students leave postsecondary education before completion.  This gap between enrollees and completers, and between aspiration and achievement, is counterproductive both for students and for the nation.

In response, many community colleges have initiated a new generation of developmental education approaches as part of a more comprehensive effort to improve the academic and job-related achievements of their students.  The following two journal articles illustrate some of these new initiatives:

 In 1998, the estimated national cost of developmental education was approximately one billion dollars, annually.  This article estimates the national cost estimate for 2004–05 at $1.13 billion at public institutions, a thirteen percent increase from 1998.  With increased costs comes additional scrutiny.  One major goal of this paper is to urge states to “make data on developmental education both transparent and publicly available in order to accurately derive a more precise cost of developmental education both at the local and national levels.”  Informed cost-benefit analyses will allow educators and policy makers to provide the most efficient and equitable developmental education.

This study, based on activities at San Jacinto Community College in Pasadena, Texas, discusses the implementation of an initiative to move away from historical models of student advising to a more intentional advising model called “educational planning.”  This approach, among other things, takes advising into the classroom and creates a strong partnership between faculty and student services to provide support, information, and career direction.  Sustained through an ongoing dialogue between instruction and student development professionals, classroom activities and wrap-around support services can be specifically focused on each individual student.  Through implementing this approach, the college found that advising becomes a tool delivered by faculty-student service teams that holds students accountable while providing needed assistance as the student progresses along his or her educational pathway.

The next issue of OCTAE Connection will discuss additional studies of developmental education initiatives and make some observations about the contexts in which they take place.