Emily Bell was a single mom working in retail, struggling to keep a job and support herself and her young son. Then Bell became a certified nursing assistant at a long-term care facility, due in part to her work with Minnesota FastTRAC’s Anoka County Health Care Pathways program.
Bell heard about the program from her Minnesota Family Investment Program employment counselor and completed the Health Care Pathways training program in 2014. The Minnesota Family Investment Program is the state’s welfare reform program, helping families and pregnant women who have low incomes go to work and move toward financial stability. The program provides employment services and income assistance.
In June 2014, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development awarded $1.45 million to several adult career pathways projects under the Minnesota FastTRAC initiative. As part of the funding for employment services, the department also contributes funding to FastTRAC, including the program Bell was enrolled in.
Minnesota FastTRAC integrates basic academic education and career-specific training for high-demand fields, such as health care and manufacturing. Bell took classes in holistic healing, first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation in addition to the Adult Basic Education, where she learned computer skills, research writing and medical terminology.
Bell hopes to become a registered nurse and work at a children’s hospital for cancer patients.
“Looking back at the program, it’s the best thing I think I have ever done,” she said. “I love my job, I love the people I work with and I love the things I do. I couldn’t have accomplished all I did without the help of my [Minnesota Family Investment Program] counselor, the pathway navigator and my family. My workforce counselor played the most important part in it and pushes me to do better every day.”