Since its inception, two student co-horts have completed Richmond Educational Assistant Program–a partnership between VCH Richmond and the Richmond School DIstrict–and a third is part-way through. Thus far, 93 per cent of REAP graduates have been hired by the Richmond School District to work as EAs.

Partnership spells success for school-aged kids in Richmond

VCH Richmond and the Richmond School District are celebrating the first anniversary of a successful partnership that ensures kids with challenges are successful in the classroom.

Begun a year ago to address the increasing demand for Educational Assistants (EAs) in Richmond school, the Richmond Education Assistant Program (REAP) is an abbreviated version of the same training that takes two years to complete at the community college level. It equips adults to work with K-12 students with physical, behavioural, sensory and learning needs.

Addressing a gap in training

The Richmond School District first approached Community and Family Health manager Chris Salgado to determine her level of interest in participating in a health module; subject matter currently not taught in existing EA training.

The result? A three-day learning module that focuses on assisting children with special needs with OT, PT and nursing supports. Its completion is a program graduation requirement, and the school district covers the cost of VCH Richmond staff time and equipment rental.

“This module allows us to provide prospective EAs with a level of proficiency in using this specialized equipment in the classroom,” Salgado said.  “An added benefit is that EA students are also making professional connections that they can call on once they’re working with students in Richmond.”

Success by the numbers

Since its inception, two student co-horts have completed REAP, and a third is part-way through. Thus far, 93 per cent of REAP graduates have been hired by the Richmond School District to work as EAs.

Of 2016’s 29 REAP enrollees, 28 graduated. The Richmond School District hired 27 while one left Richmond for an EA position on Vancouver Island.

It’s expected that REAP will graduate as many as 63 new grads within the coming six weeks. Many have already started the interviewing process to attain an EA position in Richmond, resulting in a significant infusion of new EAs in Richmond schools by Christmas.

“As one of the social determinants of health, education is  a cornerstone of a bright future,” said Monica Needham, interim director, Public Health and Primary Care . “By helping kids achieve success in educational settings , we are  equipping  them  to be successful in their adult lives. Needless to say, we’re pleased to be partnering with the Richmond School District to deliver this education program.”

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