Workforce Development and Retention

As part of the American Rescue Plan, Maine is working to address workforce development and retention challenges for direct care and direct support workers. DHHS is collaborating with the Maine Department of Labor (DOL), the Maine Community College System (MCCS), Maine Department of Education (DOE) Adult Education and the University of Maine System to increase training initiatives and build a stronger workforce across the state of Maine.

Below are a few of the current initiatives Maine is working on. Projects with a number in their title are part of Maine’s Section 9817 HCBS Improvement Plan initiatives.

This list will be added to as project funding becomes available and new initiatives begin.

Increasing Wages

ME 101.1- Workforce Stabilization Retention Payments

In February 2022, MaineCare payments went out to home and community-based service (HCBS) agencies to provide bonuses to existing direct support workers, immediate supervisors and new hires.

Registered Maine agencies have currently received $120,687,725 with 20,925 eligible employees benefiting from the bonus payment initiative. These payments to eligible employees and agencies directly support the retention and recruitment of HCBS workers.

Part AAAA Wage Support for Direct Care Workers

Part AAAA of the biennial budget established that MaineCare and certain state-funded programs will reimburse at 125% of minimum wage for direct support workers. The supplemental budgets passed in April 2022 and provides additional funding for this initiative and to increase cost of living adjustments. The Background on Part AAAA Add-On Calculations document explains how the Part AAAA add-on bonus payments were calculated.

Affordable Training

Healthcare Training for ME is a statewide collaboration of educational institutions and government agency partners convened to ensure Maine’s healthcare workers and employers can easily access training opportunities and supports. Funding for training for ME is provided through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to advance Maine’s workforce and economic goals, with additional funds provided by the Harold Alfond Foundation.

Healthcare Training for ME lists training resources for individuals and employers as well as provides listings of free health care training and on-the-job earn-while-you-learn opportunities. Information is also available about short-, mid-, and long-term health care education programs.

Tuition Support and Loan Repayment

Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) loan repayment & scholarship fund: Provides funds to loan repayment programs for nurses, behavioral health, oral care sectors and scholarships for doctors.

Career Navigation and Job Listings

102.8- Home and Community Based (HCBS) Workforce Marketing

This project is developing a multimedia public service campaign that promotes direct care worker jobs as a career choice. The initial marketing work will build on DOL's CaringForME campaign and strive to recruit workers into the HCBS field. All campaign efforts will work to raise the status of workers in long term services and supports (LTSS) positions and the people they serve.

This project is part of a larger effort by the DOL, DHHS, and DOE to recruit and retain more workers in LTSS positions for both home and community-based frontline workers. 

Healthcare Career Pathway Navigators (DOL)

The Department of Labor has hired health career pathway navigators within the Career Center system to help people guide job seeks in accessing training and job opportunities. Career center staff can assist workers in accessing stackable credentials, get credit for prior learning, and find health care apprenticeships and healthcare jobs. They can also assist medical professionals with out of state or foreign trained credentials to quickly re-enter or advance in the healthcare sector in Maine.

Direct Care Workforce Training and Certification Curriculum Development

The Office of Aging and Disability Services (OADS) and other DHHS partners are working to establish a streamlined curricula and training requirements to ensure competency in Maine’s direct care workforce.

The goal is to build a comprehensive and accessible training and certification system that would enable career progression, specialization, and cross-training to build a stable workforce with the tools and flexibility necessary to meet the challenges of adults who need long term services and supports.

We are currently in the process of collecting feedback from the training community on best practice standards and improvement opportunities. If you are a curriculum designer or DSP/PSS trainer and would like to participate in this initiative, please email for more information.

Other Initiatives and Resources

Maine Community College System Workforce Training invests in workforce development plans to meet needs of workers, students, employers and COVID-19 affected industries with healthcare as a focus.

University of Maine System Workforce Development: Invests in workforce development plans to meet needs of workers, students, employers and COVID-19 affected industries.

DOE Career and Technical Education: Invests in equipment and infrastructure to strengthen state’s CTE programs.