Connecticut Career Pathways in Behavioral Health
Identifying Pathways into Behavioral Health Careers in Connecticut
Overview: The Connecticut Career Pathways project aimed to clarify pathways into behavioral health careers in Connecticut and to identify the numbers of individuals traversing these pathways. The project was undertaken by the Connecticut Workforce Collaborative on Behavioral Health in partnership with the Central Connecticut State University Department of Counseling and Family Therapy
Need: The 2010 Legislative Report of the Connecticut Allied Health Workforce Policy Board (AHWPB) noted the absence of behavioral health workforce data to guide planning by state agencies, employers and educational institutions and for use in seeking federal grants to support workforce development. The Career Pathways project sought to address this identified need.
- To clearly define major behavioral health occupations;
- To map the career pathways, which include college and university education and training programs, plus certification and licensure options;
- To identify the numbers of individuals traversing those pathways;
- To develop behavioral health workforce supply information that can be used to guide workforce planning and support grant applications.
Activities: The Collaborative initiated the project with financial support from the Connecticut Career Ladders Initiative. The CCSU Department of Counseling and Family Therapy undertook the project, including information-gathering and development and preparation of all report products. Seventy professionals assisted in the project; representatives of the 204 programs at Connecticut higher education institutions provided information and feedback. The Connecticut Department of Higher Education provided essential assistance. The report draft was circulated to Offices of Institutional Research, Academic Deans and Program Coordinators. Their suggested revisions were incorporated into the final report.
Results: Three project reports were completed and circulated. Connecticut Career Pathways in Behavioral Health includes completion data for behavioral health-related programs of study at Connecticut colleges and universities during Academic Year 2007-2008. This report includes the Connecticut Behavioral Health Career Pathways Map, which illustrates pathways from education into a range of behavioral health careers. A set of Behavioral Health Career Blueprints within this report are provided for 16 occupations, 7 of which are “exclusive” to behavioral health and 9 which are “non-exclusive” to this field (e.g., social work). The second report, Connecticut Programs of Study in Behavioral Health, available only in an electronic format, provides alphabetized, hyperlinked summary information on 204 behavioral health-related programs of study in 34 Connecticut two-year, four-year and graduate educational institutions. The final report, Connecticut Behavioral Health Career Vignettes, offers 30 personal narratives of individuals either employed in the Connecticut behavioral health workforce or working as advocates for individuals and families served by the Connecticut behavioral health system of care. The vignettes offer valuable information about what attracted individuals to work in behavioral health, what their occupation is like, why they are passionate about their work, and advice to students interested in behavioral health careers.
Educational findings for Academic 2007-1008 included 3,939 behavioral health-related certificate and degree completions in 12 community colleges and 2 private colleges, 4 Connecticut State universities, the University of Connecticut, and 14 independent colleges and universities. The Connecticut Department of Public Health issued 395 licenses in 2008 for behavioral health occupations (not including nurses and other non-exclusive occupations). As of December 2008, there were 6,347 active licenses for behavioral health occupations (not including nurses and other non-exclusive occupations). According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011, the general demand for qualified behavioral health professionals is expected to increase steadily over the next 8 years.
Current Status: These reports, available online and in hard copy, are useful to behavioral health workforce stakeholders engaged in strategic workforce planning, policy development, and grant writing efforts. Data from the Connecticut Behavioral Health Career Pathways report constituted a significant source of input into the behavioral health section of the statewide healthcare workforce strategic plan that is being developed under the federal “WISH” grant. The Career Pathways reports have provided a starting point for meetings with Connecticut Workforce Investment Boards to identify potential behavioral health workforce development options that can increase employment opportunities for qualified individuals.
While essential data on workforce supply has been addressed through this initiative, there is a dire need to assemble data on workforce demand. The WISH grant strategic planning process will provide some data on this topic. However, the next step for the Collaborative is to secure funding to generate comprehensive data on workforce demand, including staff turnover.