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Direct Care Workforce Initiative

Direct Care Professionals

About Direct Care Professionals

A Direct Care Professional has been defined by the Direct Care Worker Advisory Council as an individual who provides supportive services and care to people experiencing illnesses or disabilities. These individuals work in health, support, and long-term care settings. Direct Care Professional is the umbrella name for the workforce for the following reasons:

  • The word Direct is used because the workforce is the front-line of service delivery for consumer support and health services. The workforce is characterized by its direct delivery of services and the depth of the relationships with persons served.
  • The word Care is used to describe some of the most important attributes of the workforce – compassion and a sense of commitment and caring about the job they are performing and the importance of their role in the lives of persons served.
  • The word Professional is used to demonstrate the value of the workforce in the continuum of support and health services, unify a fragmented workforce, and articulate direct care as a profession with career pathways. The word Professional also signifies that an individual has demonstrated the educational standards, ethics, and competencies recognized by their peers and persons served.

Current Workers

The Department expects to ‘grandfather’ current direct care workers into the new credentialing system once it is in place. This means that direct care professionals who are working or have worked in the direct care field during the previous five years will be eligible to report current education and experience, and receive credential(s) that best match their skills and job functions. This process recognizes the experience and education already held by existing direct care professionals, and provides an avenue for ongoing education and training to advance current skills as a professional. The Direct Care Worker Advisory Council is working on detailed recommendations regarding the grandfathering process and timeline; the recommendations will be tested during the pilot project.

Recommended Process for Grandfathering

The components of the reporting and credentialing process for existing direct care professionals includes reporting and recognition of skills, credentialing, continuing education, and ongoing maintenance of credentials.


The reporting process for existing direct care professionals will primarily be online, with an option to submit paper applications as well. The recommended components of the reporting process are consistent with other professions licensed by the IDPH Bureau of Professional Licensure. The Advisory Council recommends that the reporting process be tested thoroughly by a diverse pool of direct care professionals before launching the system.

Reporting will include demographics, criminal history questions, experience, education, and employment history. An additional survey will allow for collection of more detailed information about the workforce, such as formal education, employment status, practice setting, and type of position. This information could benefit the Department of Public Health in numerous ways as it projects needs and capacity of the workforce.


Direct care professionals will be grandfathered according to the skills covered in the Core Training and the five Advanced Training Modules (to read more about the recommended training and credentials, go here – link to Career Pathways tab). The credentials in the recommended career pathway are designed to recognize and align with current state and national regulation and best practices. Workers will receive the credential(s) that most closely match the skills and duties they report having performed in their employment positions. Workers may receive multiple credentials, including certifications and endorsements.

Continuing Education

Credentialed direct care professionals will have two years from the date they report and receive their credential(s) to complete their continuing education. Requirements for continuing education will be the same as ongoing continuing education requirements. The continuing education will be available and accessible statewide, ideally mostly online with some options for in-person trainings. Some training provided by employers will qualify for continuing education. Grandfathered workers will be informed of the continuing education opportunities when they receive their credential(s). Based on experience and skills provided in the reporting process, grandfathered workers will receive recommendations about training and education specific to their credential(s) and needs.

Maintenance of Certification

Renewal of credentials for all direct care professionals must be completed every two years. Credentialed workers will use an online reporting system to maintain credentials. Grandfathered DCPs, as part of the renewal process, will be required to report completion of their continuing education.