PHOENIX – The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) will receive federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, administered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), to address behavioral health workforce shortages.
House Bill 2691, signed during this year’s legislative session, created behavioral health workforce development programs at two community college systems, MCCCD and Northland Pioneer College. Collectively, approximately $9 million in American Rescue Plan funds will be distributed by Sept. 30, 2024, with another $4.5 million possible, depending on legislative action.
“Building more opportunities for students to earn behavioral health degrees and credentials will create a larger and better prepared pool of candidates for critical behavioral health jobs,” said Bill Kennard, AHCCCS Workforce Development Administrator. “Better prepared candidates enable providers to streamline the onboarding process for new workers, and ensure members receive care more quickly. Offering substantive, pre-service education and training for aspiring behavioral health workers is one step that will help Arizona meet its growing behavioral health care demands,” said Bill Kennard, AHCCCS workforce development administrator.
“We are extremely grateful to AHCCCS for this incredible opportunity for our students and faculty,” said Bettina Celis, MCCCD Acting Vice Chancellor and Provost of Academic and Student Affairs. “This funding will allow us to expand access to high-quality educational opportunities in the behavioral health field and help fill a critical need in our community.”
MCCCD will use its $6.8 million allocation to expand behavioral health programs at Glendale Community College, Mesa Community College, Phoenix College, Rio Salado College, and South Mountain Community College.
MCCCD will develop curriculum to create and enhance behavioral health degree or certificate programs and incentivize participation through tuition assistance, including nearly $4 million in student scholarships that will support more than 2,000 students over two years. In exchange for tuition assistance, students are required to serve in the behavioral health field for a minimum of two years or a period that equals the completed program length, whichever is greater.