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Higgins: Over $1.6 million for workforce training

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Thu, Jul 2nd 2020 11:15 pm

Supports WIB’s successful Health Profession Opportunity Grant program

Congressman Brian Higgins announced $1.6 million in additional federal funding for the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board (WIB). The funding, which is allocated through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, will be directed to the WIB’s Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) program. The program previously received two five-year awards; this extends WIB’s successful HPOG program for an 11th year.

The Heath Profession Opportunity Grant program seeks to provide low-income individuals in the Western New York area with the opportunity to receive training for high-demand careers in health care. Participants in the HPOG program are trained for such professions as licensed practical nurse, pharmacy technician, registered nurse, certified nursing assistant, physical therapy assistant and medical assistant.

HPOG Buffalo includes as its training partners: Erie 1 BOCES, Erie 2 BOCES, Erie Community College, Trocaire College, D'Youville College, the University at Buffalo, Villa Maria College and Niagara County Community College.

“Many of these fields have experienced an ever-greater need for trained professionals in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Higgins said. “HPOG Buffalo’s support of those pursuing health care careers combined with the education and business partnerships they’ve built in the community are delivering long-term wins for people seeking quality employment and for Western New York, providing a solution to fill shortages in these fields.”

Mark Cosgrove, the senior planner of the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Investment Board and project director for HPOG Buffalo, is “absolutely thrilled by the award of an additional year,” he said. “I’ve been in this business for a long time and know this program is something special.”

WIB’s HPOG program supports and assists its participants with case management, transportation assistance, child care, and emergency aid such as car repairs, housing, tutoring and obtaining a driver's license. Over the course of nearly a decade of operation, the HPOG program has been highly successful, providing training to more than 2,000 low-income individuals. HPOG Buffalo graduates have found employment with over 150 local employers and health care organizations such as the McGuire Group, Catholic Health and Kaleida Health.

Over the coming year, Cosgrove said he hopes the HPOG will “get the opportunity to apply for another five-year grant, enabling us to build on our success.” Additionally, he said, “I also want to thank Congressman Higgins for being a huge proponent of the program. He’s been in our corner from day one.”

H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, approved by the House in December, and the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425), approved in the House this week, includes language led by Higgins reauthorizing and expanding the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program to include opioid treatment providers among the list of eligible training options. Buffalo is one of 32 communities in the nation that administers a HPOG program.

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