Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683
Today, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) awarded $12 million to 43 organizations that will focus on improving home and community-based services for people who are elderly or have disabilities. Awards will reach all 72 counties. The initial wave of awardees, whose projects aim to improve and expand the direct care workforce in Wisconsin, are the first to receive this grant funding made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“These grants provide immediate support to our direct care workers who work tirelessly to ensure some of our most vulnerable residents have the services and supports they need to live independently in their communities,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We are proud to support the work of the organizations receiving these funds in their efforts to ensure quality care that will help strengthen our community-based programs.”
The awarded projects reach both urban and rural areas of the state, and use creative ways to make a positive impact on the direct care workforce through activities like:
- Technology to address workforce shortages, including remote monitoring
- Inventive recruitment and retention strategies
- Innovative and targeted marketing
This vital work addresses an ongoing crisis, and helps DHS continue efforts to create long-term solutions for the direct care workforce.
Applicants will be notified of their status over the next few weeks, and those who are not awarded in the first round may have a chance to apply when DHS opens the second round, in February 2023. The grant program is one of nine initiatives to use a total of $350 million that Wisconsin received to support home and community-based services through ARPA. Anyone interested in getting updates on the projects can sign up for ARPA HCBS notices
DHS is using other ARPA funding to analyze, grow, and support the direct care workforce through staff stability surveys, launching a new certified direct care professional program, and creating a statewide registry of certified direct care professionals to match new workers with employers. We increased rates for HCBS providers by 5% in 2022, and are establishing a minimum fee schedule to ensure enough funding in the system to support adequate and competitive wages for direct care providers. DHS is also working with the Department of Workforce Development and other state partners on the Healthcare Workforce Collaborative, part of the National Governor’s Association knowledge exchange network. The collaborative aims to grow the state’s direct care workforce by leveraging short-term programs and create new opportunities to address the root causes of the long-term care workforce shortage, from direct care workers to registered nurses.