A gloved nurse counts money in her hands
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As many as 3,000 certified nursing assistants could find their way into Wisconsin nursing homes through a $6 million investment by the federal government into its workforce development program. 

Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Wednesday announced they are expanding the WisCaregiver Careers program to address the CNA shortage in the state’s nursing homes.

The program was originally launched in 2018 to help expand the healthcare workforce among Wisconsin’s nursing homes. It was again revamped during the pandemic thanks to a $400,000 workforce grant from the state and is on track to reach its goal of training 500 new CNAs for employment by the end of June. 

The expansion this year is thanks to a $6 million investment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Nursing Home & Long-term Care Facility Strike Team program. 

The money will be used to support employee recruitment and success through retention bonuses, employer reimbursement, success bonuses and mentorships. 

The program is administered by the Wisconsin Health Care Association and LeadingAge Wisconsin. WHCA explained that the program allows employers to hire job seekers first and use an in-house training program to teach them. 

The association also said the model eliminates upfront costs for employers and allows new workers to earn money while they meet their CNA requirements. 

“This program design ensures that the program funding is used only on participants who are committed to working in long-term care,” Kate Battiato, director of workforce development for the Wisconsin Health Care Association, told local media. “They are hireable and can pass the needed background checks of the job before any program dollars are spent.”

The state of Minnesota implemented a similar program to address CNA shortages in long-term care. Minnesota launched a recruiting program and covered the cost of tuition, books, uniform and certification exam fees for participants pursuing a career as a CNA.