HHS Blogs

CJFS Workforce Provider Found New Ways to Offer Training During COVID

By Loren Genson, Department of Health and Human Services

When the COVID-19 Pandemic forced government agencies and non-profits that assist people to close their doors to in-person services, the leadership at The Centers for Families and Children (The Centers), who administer the Child Development Associate Training got creative. The training program, administered by El Barrio, the Workforce program of The Centers, allows Cuyahoga Job and Family Services (CJFS) Customers in receipt of Ohio Works First (OWF) benefits and other members of the community the opportunity to train for their first step in a childcare career. However, the training requires both classroom training and on-site training with classroom hours.

“We decided to add an 8-week part of the training they could complete in their home,” said Selynette Mojica, Manager of Curriculum and Instruction for El Barrio. “We looked at the curriculum and found in-home activities they could do with their children.”

OWF is a time-limited cash benefit program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program provides cash assistance to families with children while they complete job search and career training with the goal of being able to find more permanent employment that allows them to be self-sufficient. In Cuyahoga County, families in receipt of OWF benefits are referred to El Barrio and other local workforce providers to complete their training requirements to receive cash benefits.

Mojica said because many of the program participants were in receipt of OWF assistance, they had young children in the home. They also were not able to find day care options, as many daycares were closed due to the pandemic. So, the program gave participants a chance to practice the curriculum they were learning on their own children.

For example, one part of the early learning training requires participants learn the proper way to teach young children about handwashing. Participants had to study how to implement this training, then record themselves administering the training to their children.

“It was really well-received by our customers,” Mojica said. “They wanted to continue doing the training.”

El Barrio Director Melissa Russoniello said they worked closely with the county to ensure that participants in the program would be able to continue to meet their required program hours to continue their OWF assistance.

“We know they have to maintain hours to receive benefits,” she said. “So we worked with the county to be sure they were meeting all their requirements.”

The Child Development Associate program is still offered at El Barrio, and it remains a popular program for CJFS customers and members of the general public. The graduation rate for the program is 95 percent, and after completing the certificate program, 100 percent of graduates are offered positions at one of the Centers for Families and Children’s many day care centers on either a part-time or full-time basis. The program guarantees all positions pay at least $15 per hour and offers childcare discounts.

Program graduates are also encouraged to continue their child development studies and work towards a college degree in child development. The Centers for Families and Children has grant money awarded through the Head Start program to help support college coursework for their participants to get a degree.

Current programs offered by The Centers for Families and Children’s El Barrio Workforce Center include:

  • Child Development Associate (English and Spanish)
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Customer Service and Banking (English and Spanish)
  • Hotel and Guest Services
  • Peer Support Specialist
  • IT Google Support
  • General Job Readiness (English and Spanish) 

To learn more about the training and job search programs offered by The Centers for Families and Children, visit their Training & Job Search page on their website.