Direct Care Worker Crisis

One of the top challenges our members face is a shortage of direct care workers

Direct Care Workforce Crisis image of three people holding hands

Michigan can’t afford not to promote innovative solutions to attract and retain a quality direct care workforce and professionalize the field. The pandemic elevated the need for increasing wages for direct care workers and we continue to work on professionalizing the industry.

Without the necessary investment in highly qualified workers, and career pathways for direct support professionals, the quality of care and safety of persons served may be compromised – and providers will not be able to meet the demand for necessary services.

Incompass Michigan has joined forces with several organizations across the state working together to bring attention to the Direct Care Worker Crisis through a coalition focused on raising wages for Direct Care Workers. Learn more.

Survey of Michigan Direct Care Workers Shows Impact of COVID-19 on Profession

The Institute on Community Integration’s Research and Training Center on Community Living for Persons with intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Minnesota, in partnership with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, conducted a survey of approximately 9,000 direct support professionals (DSPs) from across the country about their experiences supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a six-month follow-up report to the initial report completed in April 2020 and is the largest study conducted on the direct support workforce.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly half (47%) said they had been exposed to COVID-19 at work and their exposure was higher in congregate facilities than in individual or family homes.
  • 97% of workers self-identified as essential workers, but only 30% received salary augmentations.
  • Black/African American DSPs were paid less per hour than white DSPs, and a higher percentage of Black/African American DSPs worked 40 or more additional hours per week.

For Michigan specific data.

Access the full report.

Direct Support Staff Workplace Survey Reports

Incompass Michigan and the Michigan Assisted Living Association (MALA) have collaborated in conducting a workforce survey for the past 6 years.

May 7, 2021: Direct CARE Opportunity Act Introduced

The US House of Representatives saw the introduction of 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.

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,
  • Supports the health and wellbeing of those who need and rely on direct care services, helping to prevent costlier institutional care.

Click here for the bill text of the Direct CARE Opportunity Act. 

Click here for fact sheet on the Direct CARE Opportunity Act.