DHS offering free online program aimed at combating state’s caregiver shortage

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recently launched a free online program that aims to combat the state’s shortage of caregivers.

The program is part of a DHS initiative to “train 10,000 people as certified direct care professionals (CDCPs),” according to a release from DHS.

“The self-paced curriculum includes direct care topics, such as safety, ethics and communication,” DHS stated. “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.”

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 said it used American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds designated to advance home and community-based services (HCBS) to launch www.WisCaregiverCDCP.com, which is an expansion of the established WisCaregiver Careers certified nurse aide (CNA) program (www.wiscaregivercna.com/).

“Under that effort, 9,000 people signed up to begin a journey to become a CNA,” DHS stated.

In addition to caregiving training, the program includes WisCaregiver Connections (www.wiscaregivercdcp.com/agencyreg/), 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,” DHS said. “WisCaregiver Connections allows free, easy access and interaction between CDCPs and employers across the state.”

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 $250.00 hiring bonus, according to DHS. Those who work for at least six months can earn another $250.00 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.

“We are dedicated to supporting our most vulnerable Wisconsinites in living their best lives,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. “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. 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.”

“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.”

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 can visit www.WisCaregiverCDCP.com to learn more and get started.

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