MILWAUKEE - With the urgent need for health care workers, a new pilot program at Milwaukee's Grandview High School is helping answer the call.
The program – Independence First – is also removing barriers and creating opportunities for disadvantaged and at-risk youth.
Crystal Torres, a Grandview student, is excited for an upcoming graduation ceremony and career opportunities that will follow.
"My goal is to work with Independence First and try to get my internship and go from there," said Torres.
Torres shares gratitude for the new program, taught by registered nurses, that teaches how to provide personal care services for the elderly and disabled.
Kathleen Acevedo with Independence First says, after the 12-week program, students receive a certificate as a primary care worker which is one step below a certified nursing assistant.
"It’s giving me an opportunity to grow in the health care field," Torres said.
"Students are ready to enter into the next phase as skillfully and as ready as possible," said Grandview Principal Debi Harry.
Once certified, all students can then be employed and after working for one year, become eligible for tuition reimbursement should they decide to pursue higher-level health care careers. Students under age 16 can only care for eligible family members living in the same home.
"To have our kids go from school to work and create a solid pipeline that is quality of life, jobs and careers – that they can go into the change, perhaps generational poverty," Harry said. "I think it’s life-changing for our students."
Empowering youth and preparing them for success, the program will be renewed for next year and discussions are already underway to offer classes to parents and other family members of Grandview Students.