Direct Care Alliance Launches National Credential for Personal Assistance Workers

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Program is Vital Step in Professionalizing Direct Care Workforce

This credential demonstrates that our staff is qualified, knowledgeable and meets industry standards – giving great benefit to the people we serve and our agency a competitive advantage.

The Direct Care Alliance today announced the launch of the Personal Care and Support Credential, a competency-based test that will help improve the quality of long-term care for the elderly and people living with disabilities who depend on personal assistance workers to maintain their autonomy and quality of life.

The credential comes at a pivotal time, as more than 10,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age each day. But while the demand for direct care continues to rise, there aren’t enough qualified workers to meet the need. “Millions of Americans are looking for stable, quality jobs,” said DCA Executive Director Leonila Vega. “The credential will help strengthen the direct care workforce, making this an attractive career option for new and experienced personal assistance workers by putting an emphasis on training, education and professional development.”

The credential for personal assistance workers will help professionalize the direct care workforce by: 1) providing elders, people living with disabilities and their families with a reliable way to assess the knowledge of those they hire; 2) giving agency employers a customer-centered assessment tool; 3) establishing a national standard for state policy makers; and 4) allowing workers in this field to demonstrate their professionalism and skill.

“Our employees go through rigorous training and the state’s mandated curriculum. But there’s no national recognition for their expertise. This credential demonstrates that our staff is qualified, knowledgeable and meets industry standards – giving great benefit to people we serve and our agency a competitive advantage,” said registered nurse Mollie Baldwin, CEO of Home Care for Maine.

Direct care workers are not often recognized for the high skill level they possess, and high turnover plagues the profession due in part to lack of professional development opportunities. "I've been doing direct care work for more than eleven years,” said Doreen Strout, a direct care worker. “It takes a lot of skills to do this work, and not everyone is cut out for it. This credential will help me demonstrate my expertise, earn the respect I deserve, and help me with my career.”

Personal assistance workers must meet eligibility requirements to sit for the exam, and must have completed training or possess significant on-the-job experience. Credentialed Personal Care & Support Professionals demonstrate that they possess the skills and knowledge needed to provide quality care and supports to the people they serve.

The Direct Care Alliance Personal Care and Support Credential is made possible through a generous Ford Foundation grant and meets Institute for Credentialing Excellence Standards. It is governed by the National Credential Commission for Professional Home and Community Services and guided by a National Advisory Council – a group of employers, consumers and workers committed to a professional direct care workforce.

For more information on registering for the exam, visit http://www.directcarealliance.org/credential or contact Helen Hanson, Professional Development Manager, at hhanson@directcarealliance.org or (347) 563-1193.

The Direct Care Alliance is the national advocacy voice of direct care workers in long-term care. We empower workers to speak out for better wages, benefits, respect, and working conditions, so more people can commit to direct care as a career. We also convene powerful allies nationwide to build consensus for change.

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Aaron Pickering, Media Contact

Helen Hanson, Credential Manager
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