A Focus on the Workforce - ARPA Project Highlights from Strengthening the Workforce and Enhancing Rural Sustainability

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January 2022
direct care worker assisting a young girl in a wheelchair

People with disabilities who receive HCBS depend on Direct Care Workers (DCWs) to provide vital services that allow individuals to remain in their homes and other integrated community settings. Many Coloradans struggle to find and maintain consistent care in their homes, in part, because of low wages typically paid to DCWs. The median hourly wage for Colorado-based direct care workers in 2020 was $14.85, though DCWs who work in community-based settings are often paid less, with a median wage of $13.83.

Colorado is committed to ensuring people with disabilities and older Coloradans who rely on DCWs can receive the needed services these workers provide. Funding from the ARPA presents Colorado with a unique opportunity to further demonstrate its commitment to DCWs and a significant portion of Colorado’s ARPA funding for HCBS is dedicated to improving the wages DCWs receive. Starting this month, DCWs providing many services through HCBS waivers will receive a base wage of at least $15 per hour. Gov. Polis announced the base wage in a letter to DCWs dated Dec. 15, 2021. This letter provides additional information and steps a DCW can take if they are not receiving at least $15 per hour for providing certain HCBS services.

In addition to the DCW base wage of $15 per hour, the Department is also undertaking additional initiatives that will have a positive impact on DCWs. These initiatives include DCW training programs, a job hub where DCWs can find job openings, and increasing access to DCWs in rural areas.

For more information and updates on these initiatives, please visit the Department's dedicated ARPA page focusing on strengthening the workforce and enhancing rural sustainability.