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For Immediate Release
August 8, 2023
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

DHS Announces Free Online Program to Train 10,000 Caregivers

New curriculum and employment website support home and community-based care

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recently launched an initiative to train 10,000 people as certified direct care professionals (CDCPs) to combat the state’s shortage of caregivers. The self-paced curriculum includes direct care topics such as safety, ethics, and communication. Most candidates will be able to complete the free program, developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, in about 30 hours and then must pass an online exam to earn certification.

"We are dedicated to supporting our most vulnerable Wisconsinites in living their best lives. Through our CDCP initiative, we will grow and strengthen skilled professionals in our workforce who can provide quality care to our older adults and people with disabilities," said DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. "Wisconsin has long been a leader in innovative approaches to address community-based long-term care for adults, and this program is a prime example."

CDCPs provide personal care and supportive home care to older adults and people with disabilities. This includes daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, mobility, toileting, transferring, and range of motion exercises. They can also provide supportive home care duties, such as supervision and monitoring, general household tasks, running errands, or accompanying the client on outings.

DHS used American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds designated to advance home and community-based services (HCBS) to launch, which is an expansion of the established WisCaregiver Careers certified nurse aide (CNA) program. Under that effort, 9,000 people signed up to begin a journey to become a CNA.

In addition to caregiving training, the program includes WisCaregiver Connections, a robust platform to support engagement with this workforce. Eligible employers can post job openings and automatically match with job seekers, while CDCPs can explore open positions and find the right fit. WisCaregiver Connections allows free, easy access and interaction between CDCPs and employers across the state.

"There is a shortage of caregivers not only in Wisconsin, but nationwide," said Curtis Cunningham, an assistant administrator with the DHS Division of Medicaid Services. "The only way to find more is to promote this fulfilling career by providing standardized training and certification that helps people learn, grow, and advance, and our new CDCP program does just that."

As an added incentive, caregivers who successfully complete the program and get a job with an eligible home and community-based services employer can earn a $250 hiring bonus. Those who work for at least six months can earn another $250 as a retention bonus. Current employees of eligible providers can earn the same certification and stay-on and retention bonuses if they become a CDCP, at no cost to their employer.

DHS is now recruiting students who are interested in pursuing a rewarding health care career. HCBS providers are encouraged to sign up on WisCaregiver Connections. Interested candidates and employers should visit to learn more and get started.


Last revised August 8, 2023