Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Maggie Hassan
July 14, 2021
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) in introducing the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act to authorize over $1 billion in supporting the direct care workforce and family caregivers. Given low wages and high turnover, the direct care workforce has long experienced staffing shortages.
Currently, 4.5 million workers – including nearly 2.3 million home care workers – make up the direct care workforce, and this industry is expected to grow by more than a million jobs by 2028, not including the jobs that will need to be filled as existing workers leave the field or exit the labor force. Better pay and benefits, strategies to recruit and retain professionals in the field, education and training enhancements, and better career advancement opportunities are some of the investments needed to meet the demands of this workforce shortage.
“Caregivers are too often the unsung heroes in our communities,” said Senator Hassan. “The support and care that they provide is paramount to ensuring that our senior citizens and individuals with disabilities can live with dignity. Investing in our direct care workforce and family caregivers is an investment in our families, our communities, and our economy, and I will continue to push forward this legislation in the Senate.”
“If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic lifted a veil and exposed how critically important America’s direct care workforce is for older Americans and people with disabilities who rely on them,” said Joseph Macbeth, President and CEO of National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc. “The Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act will begin to address a decades-long failure in recruiting, training and educating, retaining, and advancing of direct care professionals and provide much needed support for family caregivers. This legislation will help us build a stable, competent and professional direct care workforce that supports millions of Americans to remain living at home and in their communities will go a long way in fulfilling the promises of the Olmstead Decision and the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Specifically, the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act would:
- Direct the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration on Community Living (ACL), to award grants to states or other eligible entities for initiatives to build, retain, train, and otherwise promote the direct care workforce, including self-directed workers and direct care supervisors or managers, and to provide grants for states or other eligible entities for educational and training support for both paid and unpaid family caregivers.
- Direct ACL to develop a center to offer technical assistance to grant awardees and other entities interested in direct care workforce development and in supporting family caregivers, aimed at collaboration across federal agencies. The assistance at the center includes:
- Working with states, key stakeholders, and other interested entities to establish career development and advancement strategies for direct care professionals, which may include occupational frameworks, national standards, recruitment campaigns, pre-apprenticeship and on-the-job training opportunities, apprenticeship programs, career ladders or pathways, specializations or certifications, or other activities.
- Exploring the national data gaps, workforce shortage areas, and data collection strategies for direct care professionals.
- Developing recommendations for training and education curricula for direct care professionals and family caregivers.
- Disseminating information and best practices from lessons learned through the grants.
This legislation is supported by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the ARC of the United States, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc. (NADSP), PHI, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
This bill builds on Senator Hassan’s ongoing work to support home health care workers and Direct Support Professionals. Last month, Senator Hassan helped unveil the Better Care Better Jobs Act which would make a historic investment in home-and-community-based services by expanding access to quality home care services and lifting up the caregiving workforce that provides them. Senator Hassan also helped secure more than $12.6 billion in dedicated emergency funding for State Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in the American Rescue Plan. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to address the critical need for more Direct Support Professionals in the workforce.
To read the bill text for the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act, click here.