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Addressing the Needs of the Direct Service Workforce

State Medicaid Learning Collaborative

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) established the Direct Service Workforce (DSW) Learning Collaborative to facilitate the development, implementation, and expansion of innovative strategies for strengthening and addressing specific challenges related to the DSW.

The DSW Learning Collaborative brings together representatives from state Medicaid agencies to address common challenges and pursue promising practices in support of the DSW.


The CMS has long supported initiatives to expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) for older adults and people with disabilities.  Some direct service workers support people living in nursing homes or other institutional settings; others provide services that support people to live, work, and participate in their communities.  The HCBS DSW plays an integral role in efforts to rebalance the delivery of services from institutional models to community-based services that offer older adults and individuals with disabilities choice, control, and access to services that help them achieve independence, optimal health, and quality of life.


With the support of subject matter experts, the learning collaborative will provide interactive peer-to-peer learning opportunities, which will help state Medicaid agencies address key DSW challenges related to capacity and demand, recruitment, retention, training, coordination with other agencies, workforce safety, and worker wellbeing, or other emerging topics.  The learning collaborative is an opportunity for states to develop new solutions and identify existing practices that can work across states.

Learning Collaborative Events

Participants will actively engage and share among their peers, identify best practices, and support the implementation of promising practices in their states.  The learning collaborative includes:

  • A strong focus on identifying participant goals and participant-driven topics for discussion
  • A peer-to-peer learning model of knowledge dissemination and identification of promising practices
  • Easy access to the interactive virtual event platform, which will facilitate peer-to-peer sharing
  • Access to printed materials, recordings, and resources shared by participants or developed by the learning collaborative

Each event will have a pre-identified topic with accompanying resources for states to reference at a later time, including a summary of each event.  The duration of each event is not expected to exceed 90 minutes.  Eight virtual peer-to-peer learning sessions will be held for learning collaborative participants between May and December 2021.

Learning Collaborative Team

The DSW Learning Collaborative activities are coordinated by The Lewin Group with additional assistance from external experts and in close coordination with CMS.  For additional information, please contact us via email at HCBS-learning@lewin.com.