News | February 27, 2024

HHS Announces A Multi-Pronged Effort To Strengthen Direct Care Workforce

DCW Strategies Center offers technical assistance opportunities and online resource hub

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Community Living (ACL), announced several new initiatives and resources from ACL’s Direct Care Workforce (DCW) Strategies Center to address the dire shortage of professionals who provide the services many older adults and people with disabilities need to live in the community. These include two technical assistance opportunities to help states strengthen their systems for recruiting, retaining, and developing direct care workers; a national hub to connect states, stakeholders and communities to best practices and other resources related to the direct care workforce; and a webinar series for states and stakeholders focused on a range of direct care workforce topics. These initiatives will help sustain the impact of the $37 billion in American Rescue Plan funding invested to date by states in home and community-based services, and support the comprehensive set of actions and investments included in the President’s executive order to improve care.

“Today’s announcement reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s steadfast commitment to strengthen the caregiving infrastructure and increase the availability of home and community-based services for older adults and people with disabilities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Like our efforts to support the development of clinicians and grow the behavioral health workforce, the Direct Care Workforce Strategies Center is an important component of our Health Workforce Initiative.”

“Urgent action is needed to address the shortage of direct care professionals, which is threatening to reverse decades of progress in community living,” said Alison Barkoff, who leads the Administration for Community Living. “The DCW Strategies Center was created to strengthen collaboration across state agencies, direct care professionals, people receiving services, and other stakeholders in order to improve recruitment, retention, and development of this critical workforce. The initiatives announced today are an exciting step forward toward this goal.”

Two technical assistance opportunities are available to states:

  • DCW Intensive Technical Assistance, which will facilitate collaboration among state agencies – including Medicaid, aging, disability, labor and workforce development systems – and with stakeholders to improve recruitment, retention, training, and professional development of the direct care workforce. It will include a focus on strategies to help states sustain direct care workforce initiatives funded through the American Rescue Plan. The DCW Strategies Center will provide up to 250 hours of individualized technical assistance on a variety of issues for up to six cross-agency state teams. Each team will be assigned a coach and have access to subject matter experts to support them in addressing their state’s unique needs. Each team will include representatives from the state’s Medicaid, aging, disability, and workforce development agencies, in addition to other stakeholders. The support provided through this initiative will be coordinated by a consortium led by ADvancing States, in partnership with the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services and the National Association of State Medicaid Directors.
  • DCW Peer-Learning Collaboratives, which will bring together four to six states in a working group focused on a particular topic. There will be up to three learning collaboratives available to states. The DCW Strategies Center will host monthly virtual meetings focused on group learning to facilitate information sharing on best practices, innovative strategies and demonstrated models for growing the direct care workforce. In addition, each participating state will receive up to 70 hours of individual technical assistance on a topic or issue important to the state. Each participating state will be expected to accomplish one policy or program-related milestone within the parameters of the topic of focus as a result of participation in one of the collaboratives.

On Friday, March 8, at 2 p.m. EST, the DCW Strategies Center will host an informational call to provide more information about these technical assistance opportunities. Advance registration is required. Complete details about these opportunities, including application instructions, also can be found in the call for applications.

Today also marks the official launch of the DCW Strategies Center website. The website serves as the national hub for resources including information about best practices, promising strategies, upcoming events, webinars and technical assistance opportunities, and more to support states, stakeholders and communities in strengthening and expanding their local direct care workforce. The library features resources from federal agencies, as well as resources published by partners from all levels of government, research and advocacy organizations, non-profits and industry, and other stakeholders.

Finally, on Thursday, March 7, at 10:30 a.m. EST, the DCW Strategies Center will kick off a technical assistance webinar series The series will address a variety of topics related to strengthening and supporting the direct care workforce. In the first session, participants will learn about the DCW Strategies Center and hear from senior leaders from the White House and from across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor, who will share some of the work being done by federal agencies to strengthen the nation’s capacity to support community living by improving recruitment, retention, and training of this vital workforce.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)