By Kirk Winter

Plans are underway for Haliburton Highlands Secondary School to offer a self-contained personal support worker program starting in September 2021.

Interested individuals have until July 2 to apply for one of the 15 positions available in the first intake of potential PSWs this fall.

The PSW program involves 12 weeks of classes where students have the opportunity to earn three high school credits. Classes offer experiential learning, providing the students with a better understanding of the requirements for a PSW career. Students then move to a workplace placement of eight weeks where three additional cooperative education high school credits may be earned.

The program began in Lindsay in February 2020. It placed 20 students at two long-term care homes in Kawartha Lakes. A number of the students have offers of fulltime work once they successfully write their exam June 28.

Lisa Uuldricks, principal of the Adult and Alternative Education center in Haliburton, shared with the school board at its meeting June 8 the success of the pilot program in Lindsay and plans for Haliburton.

“We hope to have two intakes for the program next year, one in September and one in February,” Uuldricks said.

She said they plan to have 20 students a semester in Lindsay and 15 in Haliburton. They are in the process of hiring an instructor for the Haliburton location and will be placing students at three local care homes in Haliburton County.

“We hope to provide students with the skills to offer compassionate care,” she said.

The program won’t be expanded to Muskoka yet, since, “We don’t want to saturate the market with graduates, and we realize we have a niche market in Lindsay and Haliburton where there is no college currently offering the program,” Uuldricks said.

Trustee John Byrne said, “This is an excellent and much-needed program. What we offer to students is as good as anything the colleges provide.”

Trustee Don Alton wondered specifically about the window for sign ups, and was told that they began June 14 and end July 2 for the HHSS one. Students will be selected after interviews are completed and reference checks done.

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