Program helps low-income parents in Springfield become teaching assistants

SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Transitional Assistance recently announced a public-private partnership that would allow some recipients of its assistance in the Springfield area to intern and eventually become teaching assistants.

The department, which provides cash and food assistance to low-income residents, created the program after people with dependent children said they wanted more “career preparation programs that lead to direct hire,” according to the announcement. from the Department.

And so he created two tracks: a program to prepare people for office jobs in health care institutions and another, in Springfield, that would prepare people to become teaching assistants, also known as paraeducators.

Anne Kandilis, director of the Springfield Works, said her organization, which seeks to connect low-income people with services, partnered with the Transitional Assistance Department’s Works Coordinator to bring the program to the area. Springfield Public Schools and Holyoke Community College also accepted the program.

“We agreed that the paraeducator track was a great career and a much-needed program for our community,” Kandilis said in a statement. “The DTA Works internship program will serve as a scalable model in building career pathways to living wage jobs in other occupations of opportunity’ in our region.”

The Department of Transitional Assistance also offers a six-week health management training program that includes a three-month paid internship in partnership with Massachusetts General Brigham and Project Hope.

Both are designed to be intensive preparatory programs created to bring people directly into high-demand jobs and economic mobility.

“The program is attractive because it prepares participants for an entry-level job with clear paths to continuing education, at no cost, as a first step towards a meaningful career and related to the participants’ skills, interests and background, said Robert Frye. , a workforce development instructor at Holyoke Community College.

Interns will also work with a mentor, financial coach, and receive a monthly stipend, in addition to other supports such as childcare and transportation.

In addition, the Paraeducator Training and Internship class is a five-week job readiness training with two weeks of paraeducator job-specific training and an internship at a public school.

According to Frye, the program will prepare participants who do not have an associate’s degree or college credits to enter the workforce as teaching assistants.

Internships provide practical job-readiness skills such as career search, resume building, interviewing, and networking, along with soft skills such as digital and financial literacy.

Frye said there is specific pre-skills training for paraeducators that will include legal, development and pedagogy, diversity, equity and inclusion, trauma-informed education, social-emotional skills and more.

Participants will prepare to achieve qualifying scores on the teaching assistant certification tests that they must pass before they are eligible to be hired by school districts.

Internships began this month and another round will begin in April.

“We are aiming for around 20 registrants,” he said.

Interested families can check eligibility or complete an online application.

Translated by Damaris Pérez-Pizarro

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