Press Release: Disability Services Hub of El Paso county Purchases CNA School to Train its Own Quality Caregivers

th from 4:30–6:30 PM to say farewell to the founders of Front Range Nurse Aide Training Program, William and Nancy Whatley. A brief presentation at 5:30 PM will celebrate the Whatley’s legacy and share the vision for what is now The Independence Center CNA School. Address is 7870 N. Academy Blvd. Light refreshments will be served.
The school will serve as a training program for CNAs (Certified Nurse Aides) that The Independence Center hopes to hire upon graduation and certification.
“This is just the sort of out-of-the-box thinking that The Independence Center does. The Home Health Industry has great difficulty finding CNAs to serve consumers. We hope by offering state-certified training ourselves we will retain some of the graduates as well as offer training to non-traditional groups such as people who are deaf or speak other languages and want to work in their community,” Patricia Yeager, CEO of The Independence Center offered.
Demand for CNAs in Colorado has doubled over the past decade. The Colorado Board of Nursing, which provides certification for CNAs, showed 24,816 active CNAs in 2006 jumped to 49,734 CNAs in 2016. The Home Health division of The Independence Center (The IC) has experienced a continual shortage of quality CNA caregivers to serve The IC clients with both physician-directed and client-directed care options.
Katey Castilla, RN, Director of The Independence Center CNA School added, “We also send many of our own qualified personal care attendants to become CNAs so that they can provide care for a broader range of clients than as they could as attendants.” (Training requirements for personal care attendants are less rigorous than for CNAs.)
Front Range Nurse Aide Training Program was established in Colorado Springs in 2006 and has successfully trained over 2,900 people, most of whom have proceeded to become Certified Nurse Aides (CNA), Registered Nurses (RN), Physician Assistants (PA) and even medical students pursuing MDs. Front Range Nurse Aide Training Program was voted the people’s choice winner of the Gazette’s Best of the Springs in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Founders William and Nancy Whatley released a statement saying: “This sale will not only ensure that the school continues to provide our community with a quality training program that promotes high quality care, it will also ensure that the school continues to operate under the administration of a very respectful and ethical organization.”
About The Independence Center
The Independence Center is a local nonprofit organization that provides traditional and self-directed home health care, independent living, and advocacy services for people with disabilities.  These services range from providing peer support, skills classes, and employment assistance to individual and systems advocacy. In addition, The IC runs a Certified Nurse Aide school to equip the area with qualified CNAs. The IC’s mission is to work with people with disabilities, their families, and the community to create independence so all may thrive.

Caregiver Finds Missing Piece at Caregiver Support Group

National Family Caregivers MonthThursday evenings you will find Alexia* spending time with the Family/Caregiver group at The Independence Center. Despite long days of caregiving for her daughter Brooklyn*, Alexia doesn’t miss this time to connect with others who face similar challenges. Connecting with the group has encouraged Alexia to see the positive strides that have been made and acknowledge the work that both she and Brooklyn have done and how far they’ve come. While there is still work to be done, giving credit where credit is due and focusing on the positives for Brooklyn have helped shape Alexia’s new perspective of caregiving.
Alexia’s story begins all the way back with her pregnancy with her daughter Brooklyn. The pregnancy was difficult and trying. When Brooklyn was born, it became immediately clear to Alexia that there was something different about this baby. Brooklyn required constant consolation and was not as happy as an infant as her siblings had been.
“She was constantly crying. Constantly needy. She was one of these kids I could not put down. I could never understand… it was always a struggle because taking care of her was like taking care of three or four kids at one time,” Alexia explains.
Brooklyn’s growing up years consisted of behavioral issues that were difficult to navigate and put considerable stress on the family. Alexia describes her as the center of attention in the family due to the level of behavioral issues presented. Alexia read books, investigated the possibility that Brooklyn had food allergies, and visited various doctors who weren’t able to help. Simply put, Brooklyn was a handful. And Alexia had no support.
Life does not happen in a vacuum. Alexia’s story is compounded by the events after 9/11. As a senior military wife, she held the family together through multiple deployments and was called upon extensively to help troops’ wives at home, including attending many funerals. Raising her children, including Brooklyn, should have been a full time job, but instead it became a side job as she was called upon by her husband Bob’s service in the military.
“The war started coming into our house,” Alexia mentions, “Families coming to me with problems with their children, wives going into mental institutions.”
Maxed out physically and emotionally with her obligations as a senior military wife, Alexia wasn’t able to pursue getting answers for Brooklyn during this season. Brooklyn’s struggles in school and behavior intensified.
The war ended and Bob returned with severe PTSD. Ultimately, this led to Alexia seeking counseling help for the entire family. It was this renewed pursuit for help that led to Brooklyn’s testing and ultimate diagnoses. Armed with these diagnoses, Alexia began seeking help for Brooklyn with a fresh perspective.
As Alexia has walked this road with Brooklyn, she finds that things are constantly changing with Brooklyn’s needs. Things that “worked” previously to help keep Brooklyn in a safe and stable place of relative independence don’t always continue to work and adaptability is key. “My main goal is to get her to be able to live as independently as possible without me,” Alexia states without hesitation.
“I finally made contact with The Independence Center and started coming to the Thursday Family/ Caregiver Encouragement group. I needed help….some pieces were missing,” Alexia tells. “Coming to The Independence Center has helped me navigate with a different way of thinking.”
“The other part to this is taking care of myself,” Alexia acknowledges. “She is probably more capable than I think she is. I am challenged [in group] in a positive way to have more accountability and awareness to not beat myself up.”
Alexia has four words of wisdom that she would give to anyone navigating the journey of caregiver to a family member. If she could leave a legacy for other caregivers to embrace, it would be:

  • Go with your gut.
  • Seek counsel and advice.
  • Get someone in your corner.
  • Make the time to step out and rest.

The Family/Caregiver Encouragement group meets every Thursday from 5:30 – 7:00 PM at The Independence Center, 729 S. Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903. If you are a caregiver or family member of person with a disability, you are invited and encouraged to attend.
*Not their real names.

Caregiver Stats

  • Two out of every 5 adults are family caregivers.  39% of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled – up from 30% in 2010.
  • Alzheimer’s is driving the numbers up.  More than 15 million family caregivers are providing care to more than 5 million loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • But it’s not just the elderly who need caregiving.  The number of parents caring for children with special needs is increasing, too, due to the rise in cases of many childhood conditions.
  • Wounded veterans require family caregivers, too.  As many as 1 million Americans are caring in their homes for service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other wounds and illnesses.
  • And it’s not just women doing the caregiving.  Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men; 40% of women). And 36% of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well, including 1 million young people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
  • Family caregiving is serious work.  Almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones – such as managing multiple medications, providing wound care, and operating specialized medical equipment.
  • Family caregivers are the backbone of the Nation’s long-term care system. Family caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care each year. That’s more than total Medicaid funding, and twice as much as homecare and nursing home services combined.

With the ranks of family caregivers growing every year – tens of millions strong – we recognize the importance to the Nation of the role that family caregivers play.