Rep. Wild Co-leads New Bill to Invest in Direct Care Workers
WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) joined Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA-03), and Rep. Susie Lee (NV-03) to introduce the Direct Creation, Advancement, and Retention of Employment (CARE) Opportunity Act, legislation that invests more than $1 billion over five years in training and increasing opportunities for our nation’s direct care workers.
The Direct CARE Opportunity Act aligns with a key piece of the American Jobs Plan, which calls for significant investments to meet the surging demand for home and community-based services. Recent research indicates that, between 2018 and 2028, the direct care workforce is projected to add more than 1.3 million new jobs.
Direct care workers continue to be disproportionally vulnerable to low wages and unstable working conditions, even as they endure significant health risks to work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate of injury among direct care workers is over three times higher than other professions while the current median wage for direct care workers is just under $13 an hour.
The Direct CARE Opportunity Act strengthens the training, support, and career opportunities that direct care workers need to care for millions of older Americans and people with disabilities.
“The need to invest in our direct care workers has never been clearer than during the pandemic, when they served on the frontlines to keep our must vulnerable populations safe under incredible circumstances,” said Rep. Wild. “For older Americans and people with disabilities, this workforce is a critical necessity, and we must ensure that we are creating a pipeline to meet the growing need for direct care workers, while also promoting training and development for the heroes who take on these roles. I’m proud to be joined with my colleagues on the Education and Labor Committee to help support this vital workforce and the millions of Americans who rely upon it every day.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of the essential role direct care workers play in caring for our nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities,” said Chairman Scott. “But, even before the pandemic, our investments in this critical workforce lagged far behind the rapidly growing need for their services. As the American Jobs Plan recognizes, we must address the shortage of care workers and calls on Congress to provide them the resources and support they deserve. By funding innovative strategies to recruit, retain, and support direct care workers, the Direct CARE Opportunity Act will ensure that our nation’s seniors and individuals have access to vital, everyday care.”
“Millions of older Americans, especially those with disabilities and chronic care needs, rely on direct care workers to live securely and with dignity,” said Rep. Lee. “The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown just how important these workers are to those they serve. The pandemic has also highlighted that there are simply not enough direct care workers to meet demand. The population of older Americans is skyrocketing, and it is estimated that we will need an additional 5.2 million direct care workers by 2024. This bill will help meet that demand by directly investing in the recruitment and training of our direct care workforce pipeline.”
To meet the need for a well-trained and empowered direct care workforce, the Direct CARE Opportunity Act:
- Invests in strategies to recruit, retain and advance the direct care workforce pipeline;
- Implements models and strategies to make the field of direct care more attractive, including training, career pathways, and mentoring, which will allow for local and regional innovation to address workforce shortages and needs;
- Encourages retention and career advancement in the growing field of direct care;
- Responds to the needs of a growing aging population and allows older Americans, people with disabilities, and others who require direct care services to remain in their communities, when possible; and,
- Supports the health and wellbeing of those who need and rely on direct care services, helping to prevent costlier institutional care.
For a fact sheet on the Direct CARE Opportunity Act, click here.
For the bill text of the Direct CARE Opportunity Act, click here.
Rep. Wild is a member of the Education and Labor Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Labor Caucus. In addition to her work on the Direct CARE Opportunity Act, she also led bipartisan legislation in the Nurses Care Act to ensure long-term care and senior living facilities can maintain adequate staffing levels by allowing temporary nurse aides to retain their certification status after the COVID-19 emergency declaration has been lifted.