Candidate Outreach and Pre-Training

With a growing shortage of direct support staff in the State of Arizona and throughout the United States, an increasing amount of effort and resources are being spent to identify new options and possibilities to reduce the number of aging adults that currently do not receive appropriate levels of supports as they seek to remain in the setting of their choice, their own home. Direct Support Learning, LLC. dba Practical Training Solutions hereafter referred to as PTS will offer a clear plan to address this workforce shortage by taking the follow steps:

Step 1: Raise Awareness of Employment Opportunities

Targeted marketing campaigns will be published by posting a “Realist Job Preview” online in a Mercy Care Specific landing page showing a typical day of a direct support worker. (Attached) This job preview will also provide details of the job and will provide the opportunity to highlight many of positive aspects of providing direct support. This outreach will also use targeted ad campaigns through Facebook, local community resources (churches…etc.) and local events to bring awareness of the flexible, part-time job opportunities that exist in the field.


Step 2: Identify New Candidates

Identifying new employment candidates, specifically people between the ages of 18-25 as well as adults 55 and older will be the primary focus. This proposal assumes that adults 55 and older will be the most likely demographic for employment as direct support workers. We believe that turnover will be lower and the likelihood of finding an appropriate “fit” between the person supported and the paid staff will be higher. New candidates can enroll into the required classes through the Mercy Care page that will bypass the payment for

enrollments. Enrolling through this page will also isolate the candidate’s profile and only allow Mercy Care providers to access the candidate’s information once classes are completed.


Step 3: Candidate Screening

Screening of potential applicants will be done both online and in-person to

help identify candidate with the highest likelihood of employment within the Mercy Care provider network. Utilizing Practical Training Solutions classrooms/offices we will provide weekly orientation sessions to the candidates that apply. This orientation will serve two purposes: 1. Provide opportunity for our staff to prescreen the candidates as well as enable us to go over program parameters. Registering for training, completing the placement profile information and answering general questions will also be completed at this time.

The minimum criteria that a candidate must meet are:

o 18 Years old

o Valid Driver’s License

o Obtain Class 1 Fingerprint Clearance card

o Successfully complete an interview


Step 4: Training

Once successful screening is completed, the candidate will participate in the AHCCCS approved Direct Care Worker training program. Practical Training Solutions is uniquely positioned to offer this training state wide in a blended model of learning. By bringing together the benefits of online and in-person training we can reach a high volume of candidates at reduced cost and overcome travel and time barriers for many that are unable to attend on-site training during scheduled hours. We recognize that online training is not for everyone, so the entire DCW training program can be completed 100% in live instructor led classes if the candidate desires.


Step 5: Publish Placement Profiles

Each Mercy Care contracted provider will have an account within our system

allowing them to enroll employees into training as well as viewing online profiles of candidates that are trained and ready to work. This profile includes training credentials, previous experience, schedule of availability and other relevant information. This online profile will be published directly those making human resource and hiring decision within the Mercy Care provider network. Mercy Care providers will have exclusive access to the employment profiles of each candidate that enrolled through the Mercy Care enrollment page.


Step 6: Schedule Interviews

When a provider agency identifies a possible candidate for hire an interview

can be requested. This interview can be help at PTS locations or onsite with a provider. The individual support is highly encouraged to attend this interview a lead the decision-making process of who will support them in their home. We understand that this will not always be the case.


Step 7: Job Offer and Placement

When a provider decides to make an offer of employment and that offer is accepted by the candidate, PTS will provide all of the training credentials to that provider.



Students will complete training that meets the requirements for:

  • Direct Care Worker Level One – Fundamentals (8 Hours if in-person)
  • Direct Care Worker Level Two – APD Aging and Physical Disabilities (8 Hours)
  • CPR and First Aid – (5 Hours)
  • Dementia and other diagnosis specific course material may be available on an as-needed basis.



We hope to create 1200 jobs within the Mercy Care provider network over a 4 year period.

According to a study by the National Association of Direct Support Professionals the national turnover rate is 45% (ranging from 18%-76%) with 35% of those workers leaving in the first 6 months.

We feel that providing an in-depth look at the job prior to application in combination with our unique ability to engage trained workers with various employers is key to this program. In typical hiring environments a candidate is left responding to random job ads or simple word of mouth advertising which has many limitations. Responding to a job ad online without any prior knowledge of the agency is a real gamble for both parties. Our program uniquely gives the candidate access to multiple employers therefore empowering the candidate to select an agency that is not only convenient, but offers the candidate into the organization’s mission, goals and values.  We also now know that conflict with a supervisor is in the top 3 reasons for the turnover rate mentioned above. Our program is looking to proactively address this issue by allowing access to multiple agencies (job fairs…etc.)


Turnover is not only expensive for the employer, it is disruptive to the person receiving supports. It has been our experience that providing too many accommodations has actually resulted in undesirable affects within our placement program. If a candidate is unable to make arrangements for childcare or transportation for 1 – 2 days, it is unlikely they will be able to make arrangements on an on-going basis once employed. It has also been our experience that the candidate must have some form of investment into the program if they are going to succeed after placement with the employer. With this in mind, transportation, childcare and wages will not be provided to the candidate during training.

Performance Reporting

PTS will provide an annual report containing the total number of:

  • •    candidates interviewed
  • •    candidates that started training
  • •    candidates that completed training
  • •    candidates hired**

*Our focus on this program is the total number of candidates hired by Mercy Care contractors, therefore success of the program should focus on this metric as well.




Raise Awareness of Employment Opportunities

Initial Results/ Barriers:

Facebook and Zip Recruiter were the primary methods of initially sourcing new candidates. These efforts resulted in 1,331 candidates. These results were achieved primarily through Zip Recruiter as Facebook advertisements and Facebooks groups proved to be less effective.


New Approach:

Everything within this program relies on successfully sourcing a large pool of potential candidates. In addition to Zip Recruiter, we will now also target new social media apps and platforms, including Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Linkedin. Secondly, we will be hiring a part-time recruiter who can not only make daily engagements virtually, but this staff person can make in-person connections with faith-based groups, public and private schools and colleges.


Identify New Candidates

Initial Results/ Barriers:

The 2019-2020 efforts proved to be extremely ineffective and only resulted in actually enrolling 37 (2.7%) of the initial 1331 candidates into the training program. The primary barrier here appeared to be that the requirement for unpaid training prior to even getting an interview with the actual employer was viewed as excessive time/labor when a job offer was not a guarantee. Unclear marketing regarding the background requirements was also identified and resulting in some candidates leaving at this point in the process.


New Approach:

As mentioned above we will be hiring a part-time recruiter who will be able to work directly with the potential candidates informing them of the process and guiding them through serving as a single point of contact.  Connecting the candidate directly to the employer as a first step, makes this part of the process very simple and streamlined.






Candidate Screening


Initial Results/ Barriers:

During our first program, our staff initially interfaced with the candidates, described the job role in general terms, discussed the background check requirements and performed either an in-person (pre-COVID) or phone interview. This was an additional step and was seen by the candidate as a surprise when we explained that an additional interview would be required AFTER training was completed. It was at this point that we lost interest in most candidates.



New Approach:

By immediately linking the candidate directly to an employer we can reduce the number of interviews and the time distance before speaking with the actual employer. Secondly, upon completion of the interview the candidate can receive a job offer solidifying their position providing piece of mind and the motivation to completing the training requirements. This enrollment system will also automate the background check for the employer prior to the interview. Adult Protective Services, the SAMS registry and LEIE exclusion database will be checked. A printable report is automatically generated for the employer.





Initial Results/ Barriers:

Requiring the candidates to complete 11 online training modules totaling approximately 9 hours and 10 hours of in-person training (CPR/ First Aid and the Skills demonstration and proctored exam required by AHCCCS) was not seen as a barrier. The issue we identified as previously mentioned was requiring the candidate to make this time commitment without any guarantee of employment. 37 candidates were enrolled in training and 4 completed all modules.


New Approach:

The new interview/application system resides within which is our Learning Management System. Mercy Care Contractors (employers) can see the interview requests and if a job offer is made, can immediately enroll the new employee into training. Training progress/ completion can be monitored and all certificates of completion get automatically issued to the employer. This one simple to use interface provides the employer full control and access to all data and training records in real-time




Publish Placement Profiles


Initial Results/ Barriers:

During the 2019-2020 program placement profiles were published to employers with our Learning Management System. These profiles were not published until the training was completed. When an agency wanted to request an interview with the candidate, the system would notify staff on our team and we would coordinate with the candidate an interview time. This involved many steps and, in some cases, took multiple days to coordinate.


New Approach:

By connecting the employer with the candidate prior to the interview we can bypass all the steps required in our first program. When the employer makes a job offer, they will gain immediate access to the candidate profile.




Schedule Interviews


Initial Results/ Barriers:

Previously interviews were first conducted by our staff primarily as a pre-screening tool. Then the candidate would be enrolled into classes and follow up calls and emails would be completed to ensure training completion. Once the candidate had completed the training then the second round of interviews would be scheduled upon the employer’s request.  Of the 37 candidates that were enrolled into training, only 4 completed the training and were actually made available for interviews with the employers.


New Approach:

The new approach here is actually one of the main changes within this proposal. We intend to develop an automated application and interview scheduling system, that will immediately connect the candidate with the employer. Each Mercy Care contractor (employer) will be given the opportunity to select a 1-hour time slot for interviews for their employment region per week. West Valley, North Phoenix, East Valley and Queen Creek will be the options for the candidates. Each time slot will indicate the employer and actual job description including the background requirement and anything else that specific employer would choose to display. We feel this unique approach to interview scheduling overcomes two major barriers in this area. 1. It directly links the candidate to an actual employer, removing the uncertainty of not actually receiving a job offer. 2. It streamlines the process and provides the candidate with the certainty that the training will not be a waste of time.

Project Info

  • Category: DSP Recruitment
  • Client: Mercy Care of Arizona
  • Location: Arizona
  • Client Type: MCO
  • Lucid 6 Company Practical Training Solutions
  • Completed Date: 2020
  • Date: 50k