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Direct Care Workforce Initiative

Direct Care Training and Career Pathways

Governing Board

The Iowa Legislature in HF 2526 in 2010 directed the Iowa Department of Public Health to establish the Board of Direct Care Professionals by July 1, 2014. The Board will be given the authority, in legislation, to credential direct care professionals in Iowa. The Direct Care Worker Advisory Council has recommended that the Board be comprised of 9 members appointed by the Governor:

  • 5 direct care professionals - 3 representing the different categories of certification and 2 to provide additional balance among settings and populations served
  • 2 members of the public
  • 1 registered nurse who serves as a direct care instructor
  • 1 human services professional

Overview of Career Pathway

The Council has recommended three components of a Career Pathway for direct care workers:

  • Core Training = Certification as a Direct Care Associate

    • Required training for all Direct Care Professionals (DCPs) except individuals providing services only to family or one individual.

  • Advanced Training = Advanced Certification as a Community Living Professional, Personal Support Professional, or Health Support Professional

    • Optional for all workers who have completed the Core training; training may be required in some provider and facility settings.

  • Specialty Training = Endorsements

    • Training developed by experts in specific subject or professional areas; optional for all workers who have completed the Core training; specialty training may be required in some provider and facility settings.

Training Modules and Credentials

The information below provides details about the recommended Direct Care Professional Career Pathway, including Certification as a Direct Care Associate, Advanced Certifications, and Specialty Endorsements.

Core Training - Basic foundational knowledge and introduction to the direct care profession. Direct Care Professionals become a Certified Direct Care Associate upon successful completion of the Core. All Direct Care Professionals complete Core training as entry to the profession. Some of the training topics include:

  • Direct Care Professional System
  • Person Centered/Directed Care
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Infection Control
  • Body Mechanics

Advanced Training Modules - Five modules that Direct Care Professionals can access individually or in combination to become eligible for Advanced Certification in Community Living, Personal Support, and Health Support. The five modules include:

  • Home and Community Living - Services to enhance or maintain independence, access community supports and services, and achieve personal goals.
  • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living - Services to assist an individual with daily living tasks to function independently in a home or community setting.
  • Personal Support - Services to support individuals as they perform personal activities of daily living.
  • Personal Activities of Daily Living - Services to assist an individual in meeting their basic needs.
  • Health Monitoring and Maintenance - Medically-oriented services to address health needs and maintaining health

Advanced Training Credentials - DCPs are eligible for these three credentials once they have successfully completed the required modules. The credentials are optional education open to all Certified Direct Care Associates.

  • Community Living Professional
  • Personal Support Professional
  • Health Support Professional*

*Certification as a Health Support Professional is required for individuals performing health support functions in nursing facilities and home health/care agencies.

Specialty Endorsements - Specialty training will be developed by experts in those subject or professional areas and approved by the Iowa Board of Direct Care Professionals. Specialty Endorsements currently have or may have unique regulatory requirements. Specialty training is optional education open to all Certified Direct Care Associates. Some Endorsements may be required for workers based on regulations for those specialties. Some examples of specialty training include:

  • Autism
  • Alzheimer's/Dementia
  • Brain Injury
  • Medication Aide
  • Positive Behavior Supports
  • Rehab Aide

Refer to the Direct Care Professional Career Pathway Diagram and Training Modules Description for more information about the training modules, credentials, and specialty endorsements.

DCP Instructors

The Iowa Board of Direct Care Professionals will establish criteria for instructors of direct care professionals. A training course will be developed to allow instructors to train additional instructors. Instructors will be able to deliver the curriculum in any setting including colleges, agencies, or facilities, allowing for maximum flexibility to meet the needs of individuals, direct care professionals, and employers.