HCN News & Notes

Massachusetts Connects TAFDC Families with Jobs in Healthcare, Education

BOSTON — The Department of Transitional Assistance’s DTA Works internship program launched two new career tracks in healthcare and education that support recipients of Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) on their pathway to economic mobility. These public-private-partnership internship opportunities lead to employment in high-demand labor markets.

“Offering low-income individuals and families opportunities to explore exciting careers through DTA Works is not only critical to supporting their success, but the continued and future success of our Massachusetts economy, particularly in these high-need workforce areas,” said Marylou Sudders, secretary of Health and Human Services. “Innovative initiatives and important partnerships like these address the needs of the whole family, connecting parents and caregivers with career pathways that match their goals, and providing transportation, childcare, and other supports to allow families to fully participate, which are all essential in helping to break the cycle of poverty.”

DTA’s two new tracks focused on the healthcare and para-educator sectors were created in response to TAFDC households’ feedback that there needs to be more preparatory programs that lead to direct hire.

One program, the DTA Works Health Administration Services Training internship, is facilitated through a partnership with Mass General Brigham and Project Hope. This program includes a six-week health administration training program through Project Hope and a paid three-month internship with Mass General Brigham.

DTA Works has also partnered with Holyoke Community College (HCC), Springfield Public Schools (SPS), Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals, and Springfield WORKS to deliver a new para-educator training class and internship track. Interns receive five weeks of job-readiness training, two weeks of para-educator job-specific training, and an in-person internship within a participating public school.

All DTA Works interns receive a mentor and financial coaching to help them plan and achieve their goals and support their successful entry or re-entry into full employment, along with a monthly stipend. DTA also provides employment-focused supports, including for childcare and transportation. These programs are built on a two-generation approach that helps parents and their children to make progress together and provides interventions that can help break the cycle of multi-generational poverty.

“The administration has been working to shift our DTA Works internship program to focus on employment pipelines in high-demand sectors that provide whole-family support in addition to education and training,” Department of Transitional Assistance Acting Commissioner Mary Sheehan said. “Establishing new tracks in this program was a collaborative opportunity to assist more individuals in achieving their economic-mobility goals by providing them with more than just a job placement. DTA looks forward to the success of future cohorts through these partnerships, providing families that receive DTA benefits with more opportunities to achieve their economic goals.”

Anne Kandilis, director of Springfield WORKS, added that “Springfield WORKS teamed up with the DTA Works coordinator for the west and central regions to bring a DTA Works career-track program to Springfield. We agreed that the para-educator track was a great career track and a much-needed program for our community. Thankfully, HCC and SPS agreed. This type of whole-family collaboration, with employers at the table, is part of the mission of Springfield WORKS to have thriving communities where economic opportunity and well-being is possible for all. The DTA Works internship program will serve as a scalable model in building career pathways to living-wage jobs in other ‘opportunity occupations’ in our region.”