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20 States Selected for Direct Care Workforce Enhancement Programs by HHS


These programs aim to enhance the recruitment, training and retention of direct care workers who deliver vital home and community-based services to older adults and individuals with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) selected 20 states to participate in two technical assistance programs in efforts to improve the nation's direct care workforce and in support of President Biden's Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers.

© stock.adobe.com

© stock.adobe.com

These programs aim to enhance the recruitment, training and retention of direct care workers who deliver vital home and community-based services (HCBS) to older adults and individuals with disabilities, according to a news release by HHS.

Offered through the Administration for Community Living's Direct Care Workforce (DCW) Strategies Center, the programs are meant to provide participating states with the tools and strategies needed to address the challenges within their direct care workforce.

HHS and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) also jointly released recommendations for building data infrastructure in support of strengthening direct care workforce.

“Investing in care is an investment in the future of America's families, workforce, and economy," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in the release. "Better data infrastructure will ensure that these investments are made wisely, and our partnerships with states will accelerate the development and sharing of effective strategies for expanding the direct care workforce.”

DOL Secretary of Labor, Julie Su, emphasized the importance of using data to better understand and improve job quality in the HCBS sector.

Out of the selected 20 states, six applications were selected by the DCW Strategies Center for the intensive technical assistance program. These states include Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, New Jersey and New Mexico.

Each state will receive up to 250 hours of individualized technical assistance, coaching and access to subject matter experts.

According to the release, the remaining 14 states will participate in a second program offering learning collaboratives focused on sharing best practices, innovative strategies and proven models for growing the direct care workforce.

Additionally, each state will benefit from up to 70 hours of individual technical assistance on topics important to those states.

As for the recommendations made by HHS and the DOL, HHS is taking steps to implement them through the recently finalized Ensuring Access to Medicaid Services rule that will enable greater transparency in rates paid to certain types of HCBS workers, and through the DCW Strategies Center's intensive technical assistance.

If successful and with support of the Care Executive Order, the overall key efforts below for states could met:

  • Increasing Compensation and Improving Job Quality: Efforts have been made to issue guidance to states to enhance funding for home- and community-based workers serving Medicaid beneficiaries. Strategies to align compensation and benefits between Head Start staff and elementary school teachers have been implemented. Additionally, support for mental health services and training pathways for caregivers has been emphasized.
  • Making Care More Accessible and Affordable: Agencies have been directed to identify funds for childcare and long-term care for workers on federally funded projects. Steps have been taken to lower childcare costs for families eligible for federal programs and to enhance access to childcare services for federal employees.
  • Expanding Options for Families by Building the Supply of Care: Initiatives have been launched to improve access to home- and community-based services under Medicaid and to support childcare providers in expanding options for families. Efforts to expand programs like Veteran Directed Care and Home-Based Primary Care for veterans have also been encouraged.
  • Encouraging Greater Private Financial Protection and Technical Assistance: Proposals have been made to facilitate capital flows to care providers through Community Development Financial Institutions. Guidance for individuals in the care workforce to start and maintain care businesses has been provided, along with efforts to address financial institution practices affecting the care workforce.
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