State Connects Families with High-demand Jobs in Healthcare, Education
Getting on Track
The Department of Transitional Assistance’s DTA Works Internship Program recently 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 focusing 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.
“The training and internship was the best thing I’ve accepted,” one participant said. “This program helped me by getting me a jump start on my career. With the motivation, the hard work, and even some stressful days, I completed my course, passed the test, and now I’m in a good spot, and I think this was a push to better life. The staff love our kids and support us mommies. Walking into work, I’m happy … I appreciated this program so much.”
Another former participant added, “I personally have overcome so many of my fears along this journey. I learned that ‘I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think.’ I truly understand and believe this now.”
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.”
One program, the DTA Works Health Administration Services Training (HAST) 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, Springfield Public Schools, 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 both parents and their children 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,” said Mary Sheehan, acting commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance. “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.”
Ben Sherman, manager of Workforce and Education Programs for Project HOPE Boston, noted that “the DTA’s support and insight helps us find people that are smart, capable, and ready to work, but need a boost to be able to devote their time and energy to training and an internship. The DTA Works program enables us to give people training in the job-specific skills they need for successful office work in world-class healthcare institutions.”
Robert Frye, a Workforce Development instructor at Holyoke Community College (HCC), added that “the program is appealing in that it prepares participants for an entry-level job with clear pathways for continuing education, at no cost, as a first step toward a meaningful and career related to participants’ skills, interests, and backgrounds.”
Anne Kandilis, director of Springfield WORKS, explained that her agency 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,” she said, adding that HCC and Springfield Public Schools 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.”
DTA and its employment partners will continue to focus on sustainable training and career opportunities for individuals and families through strategic partnerships and meaningful family engagement. For more information on eligibility and the application process, visit mass.gov/tafdc-pathways-to-work.