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Direct service care profession in need of workers

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- There is a significant need for more direct service care professionals across Minnesota. That includes places in Rochester like Hiawatha Homes, ABC, PossAbilities, and many others.

In an effort to solve this problem, several organizations met Tuesday to discuss what can be done.

"All of our services, we're trying to support one another to support people in our community," said Cindy Ostrowski, CEO of Hiawatha Homes Foundation. "Without the staff to support people, the services and the quality of services to the individuals is at risk. There's just so many job opportunities in this part of Olmsted County and our state that we're just kind of friendly, competitively trying to get staff in our doors."

Various direct service care organizations, such as Hiawatha Homes, ABC, and Bear Creek Services have been working together to find new and creative ways to deal with the work force shortage.

"We've had guests coming from the work force center and today we have Ahmed from IMAA coming to collectively see how we can use our resources across other partners of Olmsted County," said Ostrowski.

One avenue being looked into is hiring refugees and immigrants who are looking for jobs to support their families.

Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA) gave ideas of how to handle some of the challenges these organizations face when it comes to potential immigrant and refugee workers, such as transportation for 2nd and 3rd shift positions.

"And that's where the dilemma is, there are not that much for transportation," said Ahmed Osman, IMAA Employment Services Manager. "The bus system is not perfect here. People that don't have a means to get back home or even to get to work."

These groups want to help potential employees as much as possible, but understand transportation, among other things, may be an issue.

"Teaching people the call ahead of time the night before, like I just found out I have a transportation concern, and that way we can find a sub," said Ostrowski.

"If we can get out of those siloed ways of thinking, you're more likely to be able to be more flexible and accommodating, to not just people of diverse backgrounds but of all backgrounds," said Rawhi Said, IMAA Project Coordinator. "I think things happen in our lives that we as human beings need to accommodate."

Ostrowski says the lack of workers across the local organizations is having a negative impact on clients and care as well, by having to adjust hours and activity times based on available staff.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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