Across the U.S., direct care workers (DCWs) are responsible for much of the hands-on care for older adults and people with disabilities. The challenges DCWs face are significant, such as low wages, high turnover rates, and limited affordable training. As more older adults and people with disabilities seek to remain living in home- and community-based settings, strategies that strengthen the direct care workforce are essential.

This scan highlights examples of strategies in 11 states ― Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington State, and Wisconsin ― aimed at strengthening the direct care workforce through legislation, American Rescue Plan Act funding, and training.

The scan is part of a report, Forging a Path Forward to Strengthen Michigan’s Direct Care Workforce, developed for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Aging, Community Living, and Supports with funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. An economic analysis of the state’s direct care workforce, Michigan’s Direct Care Workforce Living Wage and Turnover Cost Analysis, is also available. Although these materials were prepared to inform the Michigan landscape, the lessons herein can apply to any state interested in strengthening the direct care workforce.