Career Ladders for Long-Term Care Workers

As the Bell Policy Center has detailed in previous reports, there’s a growing crisis within Colorado’s caring workforce. This sector is comprised of the workers who provide frontline, hands-on care for our kids, our parents, and our aging friends and neighbors. Despite being responsible for the health and well-being of others, these workers, including long-term care workers, are often underpaid, under trained, and lacking needed benefits and career advancement opportunities. Collectively, these conditions make it difficult for our caring workforce to simultaneously support others and meet the needs of their own families and loved ones.

Related: Supporting Colorado Caregivers Through Respite Care

Creating a stronger, better supported caring workforce requires a multitude of interconnected solutions, including increased compensation, better working conditions, and tailored recruitment and retention initiatives. The development of career ladders — specific paths which allow workers to advance to higher paid and skilled positions within a given field — must also be part of any well-rounded response. While they exist across incomes and sectors, when used to bolster low-paid, entry-level workers (like many of those in the caring workforce), career ladders should include components that address the unique barriers and needs of their beneficiaries.

Our new brief examines how career ladders can be constructed for a specific segment of our caring workforce — long-term care workers who provide direct support for people with disabilities and older adults. Career ladders can be an important mechanism to help these workers move from in-demand low-paying jobs to in-demand higher paid positions.

Related: A New Way to Fund Long-Term Care

Developing career ladders is an essential way to invest in our state’s long-term care workers. Importantly, the infrastructure — the programs, institutions, and interest — to support successful career ladders for this workforce already exist. This momentum and energy can be built upon and leveraged. A successful long-term care career ladder system in Colorado must provide this workforce with comprehensive supports, build upon existing infrastructure, and allow for the development of stackable credentials.

Read the whole brief below and continue to follow the Bell’s work on Colorado’s caring workforce.