Feds Take Steps To Shore Up Disability Caregiver Workforce

Niketa Ingram gives a snack to Michael Nawrocki, left, and Richard Larrabee, right, at a group home in Joliet, Illinois. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The Biden administration is implementing a number of new initiatives aimed at addressing the critical shortage of workers who support people with disabilities living in the community.

With a pair of technical assistance opportunities, an online information center and a webinar series, federal officials said they are looking to boost systems to recruit, retain and develop direct care workers across the country.

The actions by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Living Administration come as disability service providers have struggled in recent years to maintain and grow their pool of direct support professionals, limiting supports available to people with disabilities.

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A survey last fall of hundreds of community-based service providers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities found that staffing shortages had forced 77% to stop accepting referrals, while nearly half had reduced their offers.

Now, federal officials are introducing a new website serve as a national clearinghouse for government agencies, advocates, and other stakeholders on best practices to strengthen the direct care workforce. The resource is part of the Direct Care Workforce Strategy Center, which was created by the Administration for Community Living in 2022 and is tasked with providing technical assistance to states and service providers on workforce issues. direct care.

Additionally, the Strategy Center offers state agencies two different opportunities receive individualized technical assistance to help increase the availability of support personnel for people with disabilities. And the center is launching a webinar series for states and interested parties on the subject.

“Urgent action is needed to address the shortage of direct care professionals, which threatens to reverse decades of progress in community living,” said Alison Barkoff, who heads the Administration for Community Living.

“The Strategy Center (Direct Care Workforce) was created to strengthen collaboration between state agencies, direct care professionals, people receiving services and other stakeholders to improve recruitment, retention and development of this workforce. critical workforce,” he said, adding that the new initiatives “are an exciting step toward this goal.”

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