It’s not often that a graduation brings so many tears, but the students enrolled in FCS’s first free Certified Home Health Aide (CHHA) training class have formed a very special bond. The group of 17 men and women proudly paraded in cap and gown into a Keyport High School classroom on Tuesday, July 26th, in front of family and friends to receive recognition for passing the exams need to become CHHAs. The students came from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, but they brought a mutually-shared enthusiasm to learn.
“You helped each other through every single skill and you encouraged each other to be successful, and you did so despite the many different challenges in your lives,” FCS Director of Nursing Kathleen Vourlos told the class before handing out certificates of recognition to all of the graduates. Ms. Vourlos taught the class along with Ciomara Yvonnet, a registered nurse with FCS Home Care Services. “Many of you maintained full-time jobs, working nights, coming to school in the morning and then going home to take care of your families. I hope you are proud of how much you have achieved and how successful you really are. I am certainly proud to call you my colleagues.”
All of the students who took the three-week class would not have been able to afford the training without help. The 76-hour course, which included 60 hours of classroom instruction and 16 hours of clinical instruction, can cost upwards of $1,300 in Monmouth County but was provided free to students thanks to funding from the Community Foundation of New Jersey Monmouth County Legacy Fund and the Faith and James Knight Foundation. To remove any additional barriers to enrolling in the course, the grant funds also provided for educational materials, mileage reimbursement, child care, uniforms and shoes, and application and licensing fees.
Janet DeMaio, a grandmother whose CHHA licensed had lapsed a number of years ago, said the scholarship allowed her to return to a job she loves. “I live to do this! I always wanted to go back to Home Care, but I have grandchildren and a daughter to care for, so I didn’t have the money or time to take the training. This has been a blessing.”
Jean Fields, a single mother of four, including one daughter with severe disabilities, has been working for FCS Home Care Services as a Supportive Care Aide for many years. She says taking the class has given her new confidence in life. “My daughter said she is so proud of me,” Jean beamed. “She said Mom, if you can do this, you can do anything.”
Amanda Mitchell, also a single mom and a recent graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in criminal justice, says the training opened up a whole new world of possibility to her. “I thought this would lead to a good job with flexible work hours,” Amanda says. “But as I really got to know the nurses and talked with them, I became more and more interested in combining what I learned here with my degree. I’m now very interested in pursuing a career as a forensic nurse.”
FCS has been providing Home Care throughout Monmouth County since 1958. We currently employ 67 CHHAs who care for 170 seniors and individuals with mental, developmental and physical disabilities, a majority of whom qualify for Grant assistance. The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs requires that all Home Health Aides be certified, however, the number of individuals who need Home Care is rapidly outpacing the number of available CHHAs.
“An invitation to provide care in someone’s home is both a privilege and a responsibility, and we take that responsibility seriously,” says FCS CEO Delly Beekman. Delly thanked the students for the opportunity to get to know them. “Our aides are our ambassadors to the community as we seek to help people live with dignity. You are our hands and our hearts.”
At the conclusion of the course, all 17 students successfully completed the exams, some attaining perfect scores, making them eligible to become CHHAs. Ms. Beekman says the pilot program was so successful, the agency hopes to apply for additional grant funding to provide more training throughout the year.
Enjoy our gallery from our 2016 CHHA Gradution Ceremony!