Across the country, long-term care providers are facing a shortage of qualified and committed direct care workers--those certified nursing assistants (CNAs), home health aides and personal care workers who provide hands-on care to millions of older adults and individuals with physical disabilities. Vacancy rates in excess of 10 percent and turnover rates in excess of 100 percent are not unusual.2
Over the next 10 years, the country will need an estimated 874,000 additional direct care workers to meet growing demand.3 At the same time, the supply of workers traditionally relied upon to fill these positions--middle-age women--will fall by about half by 2030.4 To address this emerging "care gap," providers, policy-makers and consumers are likely to consider a broad range of strategies: improving wages and benefits of direct care workers, tapping new worker pools, strengthening the skills that new workers bring at job entry and providing more relevant and useful continuing education and training. A key strategy in this mix will be a focus on workforce development--providing workers with the knowledge and skills they need to perform their jobs.
The purpose of this report is to describe five federal workforce development programs and how some long-term care agencies and service providers use them to improve the recruitment and retention of direct care workers. The five programs are:
- The Workforce Investment Act;
- The Perkins Act;
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families;
- Job Corps; and
- National Registered Apprenticeships.