State policymakers need to develop or enhance workforce data collection and reporting systems to get the hard data that can help them accurately identify gaps in their systems, choose the most appropriate tools to address these gaps, and assess the effectiveness of their efforts over time.
Federal data systems should be updated to more accurately reflect current direct care-occupations, employment arrangements, and sites of employment.
What We're Doing
- Advocating for the updating of occupational and industry codes used by state and federal governments in employer surveys in order to obtain more accurate workforce data on direct-care employment, wages, and other worker characteristics.
- Supporting the development of national job quality/workforce indicators for direct-care occupations.
- Working with national partners to propose that states voluntarily expand their data collection on public eldercare/disability services programs to include monitoring of key direct-care workforce vital signs.
- Tracking and providing technical assistance to enhance state efforts on data collection and monitoring.
As states launch efforts to improve workforce quality and stability in order to meet the escalating demand for eldercare/disability services, policymakers are hampered by a lack of ongoing, reliable state-based information about their direct-care workforce. States need to be able to assess how the direct-care workforce is changing or improving, and where the challenges lie. But government information management systems that account and pay for services delivered are rarely set up to gather and report basic information on numbers of workers employed by program and compensation levels.
Furthermore, the relevant occupational and industry classifications used in federal and state government surveys that gauge economy-wide levels of employment, wages, and other key variables are in need of updating. For example:
- The occupational definitions for direct-care workers are generally out of date and/or mix direct-care workers with other workers whose job tasks do not involve direct care.
- Some industry classifications combine institutional and community long-term care settings, reflecting an earlier era in which community-based settings were the exception not the norm.
- Survey sampling frames and assumptions about staffing patterns have not been adjusted to fully reflect the hundreds of thousands of direct-care workers who today are self-employed or work as independent providers for private-pay consumers or under state Medicaid programs and waivers.