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Consider Becoming a PATHS Practicum Site

Calling All Community Services Providers!

  • Does your organization experience high turnover in direct support positions?
  • Does your organization spend thousands of limited dollars on hiring and training new staff to fill these direct support positions?
  • Does your organization have difficulty recruiting people who want to make a career of supporting people with disabilities and growing professionally in your company?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, your organization may be interested in becoming a Practicum Site for the PATHS Certificate Program. 

  • What is a PATHS Practicum Site?

PATHS students must successfully complete an onsite practicum to graduate from the program. Students will be placed at a community setting operated by a private provider agency serving people with disabilities, home health agency or with people with disabilities who employ Direct Support Professionals. The practicum will take a full semester (approximately 15 weeks) to complete. Providers who agree to offer practicum experiences for PATHS students within their organizations will be encouraged to pay minimum wage to students.  Students who successfully complete the first semester of the PATHS program will have the required qualifications to work in a community setting with people with disabilities. The practicum is expected to provide students with hands-on experiences within a community setting in preparation for employment as a Direct Support Professional. A PATHS Practicum Specialist will work closely with providers to ensure a positive match of students to the appropriate site and provide monitoring and evaluation of the student’s progress. To ensure the success of the practicum experience, a PATHS specialist will work closely with existing employees at the site in partnership regarding evaluation of the student and to coordinate additional supports.    

  • What are the benefits to my organization if we decided to become a PATHS Practicum Site

PATHS students will arrive at their practicum site having met the qualifications to be a Direct Support Professional. Students will also have completed several enrichment courses beyond the core requirements. Practicum experiences are a wonderful training opportunity for students.  Of equal importance, employers who offer practicum sites will be able to evaluate the students for potential employment with their organization. An ever-increasing cost to providers of community services are the expenses to hire and re-train direct support employees. A PATHS graduate will come to a potential employer with all required training and additional course work, which is a direct cost benefit to the provider. Furthermore, PATHS students will be carefully screened during the application process to ensure their genuine interest in pursuing a career supporting people with disabilities in community settings. An interest in a career with an investment in the PATHS program should offer potential employers employees ready to work long-term for an organization. This commitment should help to limit turnover in a high turnover position which is another direct cost benefit to employers.

  • Would my organization have to hire a PATHS graduate who completed a practicum with us?

No. PATHS students should be considered temporary employees/volunteers for the duration of the practicum. This offers potential employers the opportunity to assess the skills and abilities of the student for permanent employment with their organization. Evaluation of progress will be a collaborative process with the student, the practicum site organization, and the PATHS practicum specialist. 

  • How can my organization become a PATHS Practicum Site?

Contact the PATHS Program regarding your organization’s interest in becoming a practicum site for a PATHS student. The Program staff will provide you with a provider practicum agreement, which outlines mutual roles and responsibilities between PATHS and the provider agency.