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Free Certified Nursing Assistant Training Offered to New Direct Care Employees at State Human Development Centers


For Immediate Release:

October 28, 2020

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications


Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications

Free Certified Nursing Assistant Training Offered to New Direct Care Employees at State Human Development Centers

Each center provides on-site training for certification to invest in workforce and ensure high-quality care


(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The State’s five Human Development Centers (HDCs) are now offering free certified nursing assistant (CNA) training and testing to all new hires in direct care positions as part of a larger effort to invest in the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) workforce and continue providing high-quality care for residents, the Arkansas Department of Human Services announced today.

HDCs in Arkadelphia, Booneville, Conway, Jonesboro, and Warren serve Arkansans with significant developmental or intellectual delays or disabilities. Direct care staff assist residents with personal care and daily activities such as walking, eating, and dressing; help clients get to and from appointments; and facilitate recreational activities.

Earlier this year, DDS announced a restructuring of its direct care workforce, which included establishing a new direct care department career ladder, requiring direct care staff to obtain CNA certification, and raising the starting salary for direct care positions. The on-site free CNA training is part of that restructuring.

“We are always seeking ways to elevate the skills and capabilities of frontline workers,” said DDS Director Melissa Stone. “We want our team members to know they are valued and to have opportunities for self-improvement. This certification builds their skill sets and opens doors to advancement within our HDCs and beyond. In turn, having CNAs on staff ensures our clients are getting high-quality care from trained professionals.”

New hires are enrolled in the CNA training at each HDC as part of the new employee orientation process, if they are not already certified. The training program is three weeks long and includes classroom instruction along with hands-on, clinical skills training. Once the training program is completed, these staff members will take a CNA certification exam that is paid for by DHS. The cost of the CNA certification exam is paid by DHS.

DHS currently has 320 CNA positions open across its five HDCs currently posted.

To qualify for a DHS Certified Nursing Assistant position an applicant must have a high school diploma or GED and six or more months of direct customer service experience or experience providing personal care to a patient or loved one, including volunteer hours. The applicant must also be CNA certified or become certified through the DDS training program within six months of their hire date. The starting salary for a DHS Certified Nursing Assistant position is $26,034.

Click here for DDS CNA Training B roll.


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