WASHINGTON — House Representative Bobby Scott and Senator Tim Kaine introduced legislation on Thursday to invest in and support direct care workers.

The Direct Creation, Advancement, and Retention of Employment (CARE) Opportunity Act (H.R. 4397) invests in training and employment advancement opportunities for America’s direct care workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims over a million direct care workers will be needed by 2024. The legislation helps address the demand by strengthening support for workers who provide daily living assistance to older Americans, people with disabilities, and others with chronic care needs.

“We need to do what we can to support their important work – including recruiting and retaining care workers but also providing opportunities for their advancement. Our bill will help ensure their work is valued as highly as it should be and that they have the resources needed to effectively do their jobs,” said Senator Kaine.

The Direct CARE Opportunity Act addresses the need for a well-trained direct care workforce by:

  • Providing funding to fifteen entities to invest in strategies to recruit, retain and advance the direct care workforce pipeline;
  • Implementing models and strategies to make the field of direct care more attractive, such as training, providing career pathways, mentoring, and allowing for local and regional innovation to address workforce shortages in a high-demand field;
  • Encouraging retention and career advancement in the growing field of direct care; and
  • Responding to the needs of a growing aging population and allowing older Americans, people with disabilities, and others who require direct care services to remain in their communities, when possible.

“Direct care workers provide critical services to our nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities,” said Chairman Bobby Scott, Committee on Education and Labor. “As one of the fastest growing occupational sectors in the country, we must make meaningful investments to ensure that this field attracts talented professionals and provides advancement opportunities for those dedicated to the profession. The Direct CARE Opportunity Act will achieve this by funding and promoting innovative strategies to recruit, retain, and support our nation’s direct care workers. This bill will also ensure that seniors and individuals with disabilities have access to the care they need to age in place with dignity.”