New online tool calls out best, worst states for caregiver policies, support

The top five states for direct care workers are Washington (No. 1), Rhode Island, Washington, DC, Maine and New Jersey, whereas the states with the “most opportunity for improvement” are Texas (No. 51), Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina.

That's according to a new online tool, the Direct Care Workforce State Index, launched by PHI to share a picture of how states' public policies support direct care workers — and where they can improve. The interactive, data-driven tool shows how states' public policies support direct care workers and how those workers are faring financially. 

Users can rank and compare states based on policies enacted to support workers — including wags, training requirements, Medicaid expansion, paid leave, “Right to Work” laws, LGBTQ+ protections and state-level earned income tax credits. The ranking also examines the economic status of the nation's 4.7 million direct care workers — residential care aides, nursing assistants and home care workers — through median wage, wage competitiveness, median annual personal earnings, poverty, affordable housing and health insurance coverage.

While Maine comes in at No. 4 on the list, Angela Westhoff, Maine Health Care Association president and CEO, told McKnight's Senior Living that many facilities remain “critically understaffed.”

“The PHI study notes that similarly skilled jobs in other industries pay an average of almost $2 an hour more than our direct care workers,” Westhoff said. “These caregivers are essential to the healthcare system, and we need more funding to close the wage gap and address the workforce shortage.”

Click here to read the full McKnights article.

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