14 States to Join Direct Care Workforce Learning Collaboratives

May 2, 2024
Low wages, lack of full-time employment, and the pandemic have caused fewer workers to enter direct care when the need for their services is growing

To address the shortage of professionals to provide home- and community-based services (HCBS) to a rapidly growing population of older adults and people with disabilities, 14 states will participate in State Peer-Learning Collaboratives where they can share demonstrated models for growing the direct care workforce.

This work is being organized by the Direct Care Workforce Strategies Center, led by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) on behalf of the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL).

The 14 states participating in the first cohort include: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

Each of these states will participate in working groups to discuss innovative strategies for growing and enhancing the direct care workforce. The working groups will hold monthly meetings focused on group learning, information sharing, and developing best practices. With the help of a subject matter expert, each participating state also will accomplish one policy- or program-related milestone. The first cohort runs through Dec. 31, 2024.

 Between 2021 and 2031, the direct care workforce is projected to add more than 1 million new jobs, yet nearly 9.3 million total direct care jobs will need to be filled during that same period, according to policy research firm PHI. Low wages, lack of full-time employment, and the pandemic have caused fewer workers to enter direct care at the exact time the need for their services is growing.
 
Funded by ACL, the Direct Care Workforce Strategies Center is addressing this challenge by providing resources, technical assistance, and training to state systems, providers, and stakeholders to improve direct care workforce recruitment, training, and retention.
 
“Addressing the direct care workforce crisis is national problem that requires state-based solutions,” said Josh Hodges, NCOA chief customer officer, in a statement. “Empowering states to share what’s working will make it easier to replicate proven solutions across the country.”
 
The Direct Care Workforce Strategies Center also will be providing intensive technical assistance to six additional states. Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, New Jersey, and New Mexico each will receive up to 250 hours of individualized technical assistance, have a coach, and have access to subject matter experts to support them in addressing their state's unique direct care workforce challenges. Each team includes representatives from the state's Medicaid, aging, disability, and workforce development agencies, in addition to other stakeholders.

 

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