Millersville University received a grant from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Foundation to help local immigrants and refugees gain access to higher-paying jobs in behavior health.
The grant is part of a project, Diversifying the Mental Health Profession with Career Pathways for Immigrants and Refugees, created to help increase the number of mental health workers.
The program will pay for adult immigrants to earn their Registered Behavior Technician certification, leading to work as a behavioral health technician.
According to the grant proposal, Lancaster County faces a shortage of mental health providers, especially non-native English speakers. It also shows that the demand for behavioral healthcare has increased dramatically since the start of the pandemic. Providers are reporting increased demand for mental health care, drug abuse treatment and help with children living in unsafe homes.
At the same time, many immigrants and refugees work low-paying jobs without the opportunity for advancement. This program would diversify the mental health profession and offer career pathways to those who might not have otherwise had the opportunity, the release said.
T.S. Ponessa and Associates Counseling Services Inc. has agreed to interview anyone who completes the program and will hire up to 60 behavioral health technicians in the region.
Church World Services and The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon are partnering with the program to offer support services to immigrants and refugees.