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United We Heal apprenticeship in Oregon snags nearly $900K in federal funding

United We Heal apprenticeship in Oregon snags nearly $900K in federal funding
By AFSCME Staff ·

AFSCME’s United We Heal campaign has long been securing a voice on the job for behavioral health workers and helping them improve at their jobs. Now, the campaign is receiving federal support to the tune of nearly $900,000 to better prepare and train behavioral health workers in Oregon.

The money is part of the 2023 federal government funding bill, which Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed into law late last month. The funding, which would go to the U.S. Department of Labor, would enable the agency to pay for an apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship program run by the United We Heal Training Trust in Portland.

The United We Heal Training Trust was created to help lift up the entire behavioral health industry through apprenticeship programs.    

These apprenticeships, similar to those historically found in the trades, will provide workers the opportunity to study while they work and acquire necessary certifications that not only expand career options, but help employers fill desperately needed positions.

Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici added the United We Heal program to the list of 15 community projects for which she secured money in the funding bill.

According to the lawmaker, the money would go toward providing pre-apprenticeship education and training for 60 people seeking to enter the behavioral health industry and apprenticeship opportunities for 60 more participants to become certified alcohol and drug counselors.

Stacy Chamberlain, chair of the United We Heal Training Trust, an AFSCME vice president and executive director of Oregon AFSCME Council 75, applauded the federal investment and thanked Bonamici for securing it.

“Oregon has some of the highest rates in the country for drug addiction and negative mental health outcomes,” Chamberlain said. “These funds will help rebuild the workforce with a focus on innovative apprenticeship programs built upon collaboration between employers and workers. A stable workforce is the only way to improve client care and make Oregon a healthier place for all. Thank you to Rep. Bonamici for her work bringing creative solutions to our addiction crisis."

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