CMS Releases Competencies for Direct Service Workers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a final validated set of competencies for direct service workers. Known as the Roadmap of Core Competencies for the Direct Services Workforce, this cross-sector competency set is the product of a four-year process of development funded by CMS and conducted under the auspices of the National Direct Service Workforce Resource Center.

For the past seven years Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce has served as the behavioral health technical assistance arm of the Resource Center and, in this role, represented the mental health and substance use disorders healthcare sectors in the development of the competencies. The Roadmap project was designed to identify core competencies shared by direct care workers across multiple healthcare sectors, including mental health, substance use disorders, developmental and physical disabilities, and the older adult population that requires long-term services and supports in the home and community.

Development began with a crosswalk or comparison of competency sets drawn from these varied health sectors, including the Alaskan Core Competencies, which were created by the Annapolis Coalition in partnership with the WICHE Mental Health Program. Item development for the Roadmap competencies involved a modified Delphi process through an online survey and subsequent stakeholder conference in Washington, DC. Validation occurred in a final phase with multiple focus groups in each of four states involving clients, family members, direct care workers, supervisors, and service agency managers. CMS encourages the development of competencies in direct care workers but does not mandate the use of these or any other competencies.


The final report, which includes the competencies, is available online.

Information on the Alaskan Core Competencies is also available online.


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