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Iowa Senate Endorses Direct-Care Worker Professionalization with Budget Bill

April 19, 2012

Iowa state capitol building

A budget bill passed by the Iowa Senate last week would support training standards and career paths for the state’s direct-care workforce.

The bill (SF 2336) sets the FY 2013 budget for the Iowa Health & Human Services Department (HHS). It would establish and fund:

  • core training standards for direct-care workers,
  • specialized training opportunities, and
  • career advancement opportunities.

SF 2336 would also create a Board of Direct Care Professionals to oversee the implementation of these new training standards and career pathways.

The board will help “provide direct-care workers with the professional status they deserve,” said Di Findley, the executive director of the Iowa CareGivers Association.

The state House version of the HHS budget bill, which passed April 18, does not include funding for the Board of Direct Care Professionals. This and other discrepancies between the two bills will be negotiated and resolved in a future conference committee, Findley said.

Bill Draws on Council Report

In crafting the bill, state senators drew upon recommendations made by the Iowa Direct Care Worker Advisory Council. In a report (pdf) to the governor and state legislature submitted in March, the council suggested ways for the state to build a stable and qualified direct-care workforce.

The council’s recommendations “are designed to stabilize and strengthen the direct-care workforce to reduce turnover costs, improve quality, and ensure access to services,” the report says.

Established by the state legislature in 2008, the Iowa Direct Care Worker Advisory Council comprises a broadly representative coalition of stakeholders, including direct-care workers, consumers, employers, and other health professionals. The council reports to the state Iowa Department of Public Health.

“What I am most proud of is the leadership taken by direct-care workers in moving this historical piece of legislation (SF 2336) forward,” Findley said.

— by Matthew Ozga

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