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New Requirements Could Cost Child Care Workers' Jobs

"The reason we're phasing out the position is because it does not require a level of knowledge and expertise that we feel is essential."

ROMNEY, W.Va. - Child care workers at the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind have been protesting outside the school all week. The school is planning to change their residential care requirements for the workers.

"We were informed approximately five weeks ago that all the CCW positions were being done away with and reclassified to a different job description," said Kim Buckley, a child care worker at the school.

Lynn Boyer, the school's superintendent, said the current positions do not prepare the students as well as they could be for real world situations.

"The reason we're phasing out the position is because it does not require a level of knowledge and expertise that we feel is essential," Boyer said. "It had to be a new job, with new criteria, with a different salary scale. West Virginia personnel policies do not allow us to grandfather people into a new position that is on those new scales."

This means 35 of the current care workers could be out of a job is they do not meet the new requirements by June 2015. One of those requirements is obtaining an Associate of Arts degree, something many of the current workers do not have.

"We have to re-interview for these jobs which require an AA degree," Buckley adds. "Which most of us will have to go back to college and obtain in 3 years, which is not enough time."

West Virginia State Senator Donald Cookman is supporting the workers and agrees that obtaining the AA degree shouldn't be a requirement

"To require them to go back to school to get a college education, I think is really unnecessary," Cookman said. "What I want to make certain is that they're treated fairly in the process, and I don't see that that's been happening."

However, superintendent Boyer says they have been treating their workers fairly by giving them until next year to apply for the position.

"We've also helped them develop resumes to develop the applications," Boyer adds. "We've offered to do role plays of interviews because this is something that many of these workers have not experienced, and we understand that."

Buckley says it doesn't make sense to require an AA degree when the workers have been there for years and already have the experience

"We already have those skills, we know our jobs, we know our kids, we love the kids that we serve here," Buckley says. "We know the routine."

"I don't expect there are going to be 35 brand new people coming in with the criteria," Boyer said. "I have every reason to think a number of them will be in these new positions."
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