UMA and UMF Collaborate to Strengthen Human Services Programs

The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) and the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) are pleased to announce an innovative collaboration aimed at enhancing their respective mental health and human services programs and removing barriers for students. This partnership represents a significant step towards addressing the growing demand for skilled professionals in these fields.

The collaboration is being funded by a $285,000 grant from the University of Maine System (UMS) Talent, Research & Innovation for Maine – Small Campus Initiative using funds allocated to the UMS from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan. The Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) is Governor Mills’ plan approved by the Legislature to utilize Maine’s share of the federal pandemic relief funds provided by Congress. The MJRP funds came to the University of Maine System for workforce development, and were awarded for this project by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.

UMA, known for its excellence in Mental Health and Human Services (MHHS) education, offers a comprehensive program in Mental Health and Human Services through the College of Professional Studies. UMF boasts a well-established Rehabilitation and Human Services program under the Division of Community Health Education, Recreation, and Rehabilitation Services. The collaboration will leverage the strengths and expertise of both institutions to provide students with a more robust and comprehensive educational experience. By sharing resources, faculty expertise, and best practices, UMA and UMF aim to produce graduates who are exceptionally well-prepared to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving healthcare and human services landscape.

Key highlights of this collaboration include:

Free Student Tuition for Specific Classes at UMA & UMF:  The two critical workforce areas this grant targets are courses that lead to licensure to become a substance use disorders counselor in Maine and courses to become an Employment Specialist.  UMA and UMF offer the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Technician (SART) certificate program, which is designed to provide students with the necessary coursework to meet the education requirements for entry-level licensure in substance use disorder treatment in Maine. Delivered entirely online, the 10-course SART certificate program prepares students to become Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADCs). New and current UMA and UMF students can receive up to a 50% tuition waiver when enrolled in the SART certificate program.

The other grant-funded pathway is the UMF Employment Specialist (ES) certification. This certificate can be earned by completing two online courses, and prepares graduates to work closely with people with disabilities, and other limiting conditions, to help them find and maintain employment. It The courses introduce students to career exploration, career planning and job coaching and completion of the two course sequence can lead to national certification under ACRE. The grant will cover the tuition costs for one of the two ES courses for new and current UMA and UMF students. This incredible opportunity allows individuals to pursue their passion for helping others without the financial burden.

Support for licensing exams: Grant funds are available to support current UMA and UMF in pursuing a professional license as a substance use disorders counselor. Study guides for the national exams have been purchased and are now available at UMF and UMA campus libraries for students use. Students can also request reimbursement for the costs of the national exam once they have passed. These options prove ways to reduce student barriers towards the pursuit of state level substance use disorders treatment licensure.

Cross-Enrollment: Students from UMA will have the opportunity to enroll in selected courses at UMF, and vice versa, broadening their academic experiences and exposure to different perspectives within healthcare and human services.

To be eligible for the grant, prospective students must apply for admission, and there is no cost to apply. Once accepted into the program, students can apply online for grant funding, which covers up to 50% of the tuition for specific courses identified in the grant.

Dr. Jenifer Cushman, President of UMA, expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, “This partnership will strengthen our commitment to producing highly skilled professionals in mental health and human services. By working together with UMF, we can provide our students with an even more exceptional education and empower them to make a meaningful impact in their communities.”

Dr. Wendy St. Pierre, Assistant Professor of MHHS and Academic Coordinator for the program, added, “I am excited about the possibilities that this multi-campus collaboration brings to students at UMA and UMF. UMA and UMF faculty have recognized the financial barriers that students face and having access to these grant funds will hopefully encourage people to consider starting a new career as a substance use disorders counselor or an employment specialist. One of our goals is to promote careers in human services to meet the current workforce and consumers needs across the state of Maine and beyond.”

The collaboration between UMA and UMF represents a forward-thinking approach to education, designed to meet the evolving needs of the healthcare and human services sectors. Both institutions are dedicated to fostering the development of future leaders in these critical fields.

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