Harrisburg, Pa. – Direct care workers will receive some help as $4 million in Direct Care Worker Training Grants (DCWTG) are available statewide.

The grants improve the quality of care provided by direct care workers. They will also create opportunities for workers to build new careers and earn family-sustaining wages. 

"Direct care workers assist and support patients who are not able to look after themselves in long-term care facilities like nursing homes," said Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak.

"The majority of these jobs – nearly 90 percent – are filled by women who earn relatively low wages and receive limited health benefits. The Direct Care Worker Training Grants benefit our loved ones who need this type of assistance and the workers who care for them," Oleksiak said.

L&I will provide up to $4 million in funding for the DCWTGs to create and develop training programs that increase the quality of direct care services.

The grants will also fund specialty certifications, and create viable career opportunities for personal care assistants, home health aides and certified nursing assistants.  

As demand increases in Pennsylvania for long-term care services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the quality of care and safety of workers must be maintained. 

The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council, which advises the Department of Aging and other agencies on long-term care issues, last year developed the Blueprint for Strengthening Pennsylvania's Direct Care Workforce.

This report recommended the establishment of standardized core training for direct care workers to provide career pathways throughout the continuum of long-term services and supports. 

"Direct care workers are the cornerstone of long-term care, so I'm pleased to see how the important work of the Long-Term Care Council and its recommendations in the Blueprint for Strengthening Pennsylvania's Direct Care Workforce has helped inform the goals and strategies of the DCWTG program," said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres, who chairs the Council.

"The Wolf Administration recognizes that creating pathways for more individuals to enter and remain in the direct care workforce is critical to ensuring that the long-term care needs of our citizens can be met both now and in the future," Torres said.   

Eligible applicants include local workforce development boards, non-profit and non-governmental entities, community-based organizations, education and post-secondary organizations, healthcare organizations, labor organizations, business associations, trade associations of long-term services and supports providers, and economic development entities.

Grant awardees are expected to be notified by the end of November 2020, and the grants will operate between January 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022.  

Direct Care Worker Training Grants of up to $2 million are available through L&I's reemployment funding to assist individuals to become employed or to improve their employment. The grants support job search and placement services, educational enhancement, job training, job readiness and workplace skills training.  

The deadline to apply is October 2, 2020. Additional details and the grant application can be found on L&I's website.  

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.