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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KRDO) – On Wednesday, a new program called the Care Forward Colorado program was launched by the Colorado Department of Higher Education with Governor Jared Polis. According to Colorado State, the program is to help save money for students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare.

In a press release, Governor Polis signed bipartisan legislation as part of Colorado’s roadmap moving forward to enable funding for health care workers. The legislation is sponsored by State Senators Sonya Jaquez Lewis and Bob Rankin and State Representative Kyle Mullica.

“We are saving money in Coloradans and ensuring students can get the skills and training they need to build our health workforce for the future,” Governor Polis said. “Colorado has one of the most educated and talented workforces in the country, and we are taking steps to develop more talent right here at home.”

“The past few years have been difficult for all of us, but especially for our healthcare heroes, and it’s up to us to support them in any way we can,” said Sen. Jaquez Lewis. “The Care Forward Colorado program will guarantee healthcare professionals free access to community college, which will make it easier for Coloradans to enter the medical field while supporting our healthcare staff so that we can provide care of the highest quality to patients. Through this program, we save people money while building a healthier Colorado for everyone.

“When I recovered from my injuries and returned to civilian life, Arapahoe Community College gave me my first chance at a new career serving student veterans,” said Rep. David Ortiz, D. -Littleton. “Now, with the new Care Forward Colorado program, aspiring healthcare providers will have the opportunity to launch the career of their dreams. Free community college saves people money, and this program will strengthen our workforce of health care providers to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need, when they need it.

“It’s exciting to see this new law that I sponsored being put into action,” said Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Thornton, an ER nurse. “Arapahoe Community College’s Care Forward Colorado program will save Coloradians money as they pursue careers in healthcare. I have witnessed the burnout, stress and anguish felt by so many of our first responders during the pandemic. SB22-226, and the free community college programs it creates, will boost our healthcare workforce and create new, free options for students to earn the credentials they need to build their careers.

The state says more than 18 Colorado community and technical colleges will receive training programs and opportunities. These colleges include: Colorado Community College System, Aims Community College, Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College, and Colorado Regional Technical Colleges.

Beginning this fall, students will be reimbursed for tuition, fees, and materials through 2024 if enrolled in one of the following healthcare certificate programs:

  • Certified childminder
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Phlebotomy Technician
  • Pharmacy technician
  • medical assistant
  • dental assistant

“Care Forward Colorado is moving Colorado toward a health care system where students can earn a free health care certificate from their local community college and then decide whether to enter the workforce or continue their education locally,” said Dr. Angie Paccione. “This zero-cost opportunity puts students on the path to a career in healthcare, not just a job.”

“We have long been the partner of choice for the Colorado healthcare industry and we are proud to continue that legacy through Care Forward Colorado,” said Joe Garcia, Chancellor of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). “We are grateful to Governor Polis and lawmakers for entrusting us with this generous investment, and we stand ready to train the next generation of healthcare professionals.”

Many community leaders have expressed support for the Care Forward Colorado program:

“Senate Bill 226 aligns with CDLE’s work to support a strong pipeline of healthcare talent through investments in healthcare learning and other workplace learning models. We are committed to working with the community college system and technical colleges to advance learning and work learning across all health professions,” said Joe Barela, Executive Director of the Department of Labor and Colorado Employment.

“SB 226 creates a pathway for current clinical healthcare providers to advance their knowledge and skills, as well as the opportunity for new Colorado residents to join our essential healthcare workforce,” said Dr. Robin Wittenstein, CEO of Denver Health. “This investment in people is essential not only for hospitals like Denver Health, but also for our employees and future employees as they strive to advance their economic mobility. We were proud to support this bill.

“Even before the pandemic, Colorado faced shortages of critical entry-level healthcare positions, and our colleges are committed to filling those gaps with affordable and accessible training,” said Dr. Landon. Pirius, vice chancellor of academic and student affairs in Colorado. Community college system. “We are grateful to Governor Polis and Senators Jaquez Lewis and Rankin and Rep. Mullica for prioritizing legislation that makes historic investments in students and in our programs so that we can strengthen our work to transform lives. and train the next generation of healthcare leaders.

You can find out more about the program here.