Picente: Public-Private Internship Partnership Developing Future Human Services Workforce

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente today praised Upstate Cerebral Palsy for its efforts to support the Oneida County College Student Corps and help grow the human services workforce of the future.

“There is a tremendous need for trained, understanding, compassionate human services workers who can deal with the needs of our society,” Picente said, in speaking to staff at the Kelberman Center Awesome Summer Days Camp in Clinton. “I want to salute Upstate Cerebral Palsy for investing in internships this summer for eight students and helping them gain experience in all facets of the human services field.”

The Oneida County College Student Corps, which was created in 1998 by the Oneida County Board of Legislators, provides 200-hour summer internships for Oneida County-based students. Under the program, employers and the county each pay half the cost of an intern – making the program an ideal public-private partnership that helps local college students gain a fuller understanding of local opportunities in their chosen field of study. This year, 134 students worked as interns at 51 employers.

“Every time an employer invests the time, money and effort that it takes to give an intern a really good internship, that is an investment in the future of our region,” Picente said. “Upstate Cerebral Palsy has taken a great leadership role by giving these interns the opportunity to learn about their fields of study and learn about the opportunities that exist in the community.”

Picente said the program is one very important way to help students gain experience and make connections with employers. “The State Department of Labor projects that by 2018, overall we will need 18% more community human services workers of all kinds, including 21% more mental health social workers,” Picente said. “We want young people who have a connection to our area, who are part of our communities, to help us in the work of caring for the people in need. By giving these interns a chance to experience the human services world first-hand, the interns can understand the great need in this field and the great work done in our community.”

Louis Tehan, Executive Director of Upstate Cerebral Palsy, said: “The Oneida County College Corps Program is one way that we can help attract and retain young people as well as address the need for a highly dedicated workforce to deliver crucial and pivotal help in shaping the lives of vulnerable children, youth and families. We have been delighted with the hard work of our interns and with the support we have received from the College Corps to make these internships run smoothly. I commend County Executive Picente and the Board of Legislators for their efforts to fund this program. It is an investment in the future and we are proud to be a part of it.

Local students working as interns in the program expressed their feelings about the college Corps.

"Working at Kelberman Center's Awesome Summer Days camp is an enriching experience,” said intern Luke Durr.  “Being able to assist in the development and growth of children with autism has proven to be quite fulfilling and satisfying.  Being a part of this camp has taught me so much and has given me many experiences and tools that should prove quite rewarding to my future."

Ryan Hartnett spoke about the learning that took place during his internship. " Coming back to Oneida County to work for the summer has been one of the most eye opening and beneficial experiences of my life.  The Kelberman Center has taught me responsibility, and has shown me a strong work ethic pays off.  The Kelberman Center is a strong example that there are still great jobs in Central New York to start a career and live a successful life," he said.

The internship gave Sidika Kajtezovic a new perspective on the community and the Kelberman Center. "Living in the Utica area most of my life, I have done a substantial amount of volunteer work around Central New York.  Being a rising Junior at Hamilton College nearby, I was given even more choices to work and volunteer in the Mohawk Valley.  This summer I was given the opportunity to work as a camp counselor at the Kelberman Center Awesome Summer Days Camp.  It has been an incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable experience and has given me a new perspective on ASD [autism spectrum disorders].  The Kelberman Center is one of the many opportunities in the Mohawk Valley that enrich a student's life, both personally and professionally," Sidika said.

“Human services workers are a linchpin in honoring our society’s promise to help our  most vulnerable citizens,” Picente said. “These workers provide childcare for low-income working parents, run the after-school programs that help build self-esteem, protect children from neglect, provide alternatives for troubled juveniles, and guide the journey for low-income families from welfare to work. I believe that because of the opportunities we offer students at Upstate Cerebral Palsy and other sites, we are taking a step this summer that will not only help retain the young people we want and need, but also help bring those in need a new generation of caring, compassionate and energetic workers who can provide the services needed by so many of our area’s residents.”