Nursing Assistant Students Get Help; Foster Care Agency Pilot Program Trains Them, Gives Support

Article excerpt

Byline: COULTER KIRKPATRICK

One sure thing in Hannah Wilder's unsure life was that she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.

After an abusive childhood, she spent her teen years bouncing around foster homes, running away, dropping out of school and thinking she was bigger than she really was.

Wilder, 22, of Hilliard is bigger now and no longer lives in a foster home. She's married with kids, and the foster care system that helped her as a teen is helping her achieve her dream of becoming a nurse.

Wilder started her first day of studies Monday to earn certification as a nursing assistant as part of a pilot program by the foster care agency Family Support Services of North Florida, in partnership with the Northeast Florida State Hospital in Macclenny.

"I am so grateful," Wilder said. "Foster care has always been something there that's got my back."

Wilder and nine other students from Family Support Services programs are driven by van between Jacksonville and the state hospital in Macclenny. The students include five young adults from the independent living program who moved out of foster care at age 18, and five adults from the voluntary prevention program Strengthening Ties and Empowering Parents for families facing challenges.

"The CNA [certified nurse assistant] program entails a rigorous curriculum that will require a strong commitment and serious studies, and will enable the students to gain entry into the health care profession," said Jim Adams, chief executive officer of Family Support Services. "Many of our students plan on using this program as a stepping stone for becoming registered nurses or to pursue careers in other areas of health care."

The agency is providing transportation for the program as well as covering expenses for books, supplies and uniforms.

"In addition, we are providing constant support and encouragement. Family Support Services wants them to succeed," Adams said.

The program curriculum includes classroom lectures and hands-on training, including course work in ethics and privacy. …