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August 17, 2023

AHCCCS Administers Federal Funding to Community Colleges to Address Behavioral Health Workforce Shortages

PHOENIX – The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) has selected the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) to lead the statewide collaborative partnership with Arizona’s ten community college districts that will focus on health care career development, education, and training of the state’s long-term care and behavioral health workforces.

AHCCCS was awarded $25.7 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Section 9817 funding to support the ARP Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Workforce Development Career Education and Training initiative. This initiative aims to increase the number of individuals who join the workforce to pursue health care careers while decreasing the number of workers who leave the field.

“More than 68,000 Arizonans receive long term care services through the Medicaid program because they require institutional levels of care,” said AHCCCS Workforce Development Administrator Bill Kennard. “However, most receive that level of care in their homes. Given that Home and Community Based Services are such a critical service, now is the time to build a workforce that supports our state’s needs.”

“This groundbreaking collaboration is a great example of how we can work together across systems to ensure Arizona’s healthcare needs are met while providing invaluable support for those seeking employment in the in-home healthcare field,” said Bettina Celis, MCCCD Acting Vice Chancellor and Provost of Academic and Student Affairs.

Arizona intends to leverage this unprecedented opportunity to implement initiatives that enhance and strengthen home and community-based services and its workforce while promoting ongoing access to care. AHCCCS has proposed implementing various initiatives to bolster the workforce through recruitment, retention, and financial assistance strategies.

“We are excited about this opportunity,” said Rochelle Rivas, MCCCD Director of Healthcare Education. “This partnership will help us ensure that our state has a well-trained HCBS workforce so that Arizonans can continue to receive high-quality care within their own homes.”

As part of the collaboration, MCCCD will create and manage a scholarship and tuition assistance program for students and members of the HCBS workforce who are pursuing healthcare careers in behavioral health and long-term health care services. MCCCD will also establish a committee with representatives from all college systems. This committee will work together with AHCCCS, health plans, and the HCBS provider community to provide guidance and support for the career education and training partnership. Additionally, MCCCD will develop a comprehensive, open-source, pre-service and in-service competency-based training program for the HCBS workforce. Combining pre-service and in-service training provides more opportunities for the HCBS workforce to build their competency, thereby, improving the quality of services provided to AHCCCS members.

Through this partnership, Arizona will be able to create an environment where individuals can pursue meaningful careers in health care services while ensuring access to quality care throughout the state.

Learn more about Maricopa Community Colleges Health Sciences degree and certificate programs.

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