Representatives Lujan Grisham and Ros-Lehtinen Introduce Care Corps Demonstration Program
On Thursday, July 27, U.S. Representatives Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced legislation to create a Care Corps demonstration program that is designed to provide support for family caregivers and help meet the growing demand for the care of aging and disabled Americans.
The Care Corps Demonstration Act will place volunteers in communities to work with seniors and individuals with disabilities who need extra support to live independently. In exchange, volunteers will receive health insurance and other benefits, such as tuition assistance.
Over 43 million family caregivers provide much of our nation’s long-term services and supports, permitting individuals of all ages to remain in their communities and avoid or delay more costly nursing home or foster care placements. Several factors including financial constraints, work and family demands, and the challenges of providing care place great pressure on family caregivers. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP study Caregiving in the U.S. found that most caregivers have been in their role for at least 4 years; higher hour caregivers are twice as likely to have been in their caregiving role for 10 or more years. On average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours a week providing care to a loved one; this number jumps to 44.6 hours per week for those caring for a partner/spouse. Only about half of caregivers say another unpaid caregiver helps their care recipient.
In 2010, there were seven potential caregivers for every person over the age of 80. By 2030, that ratio is projected to drop by almost half, to 4:1. In the paid workforce the U.S. will need to add at least 1 million more direct care workers over the next ten years. Better support for family caregivers is critical because often it is their availability–whether they are family members or unrelated friends and neighbors who dedicate their time–that determine whether an older person can remain in his or her home. The economic cost of replacing unpaid caregiving of elderly adults is estimated to be $470 billion.
Highlights of the Care Corps Act:
- Authorizes grants for the creation of local Care Corps programs at $10 million per year over five years.
- Public or private non-profit groups would apply for Care Corps grants and administer the program locally, training and assigning members to communities in need.
- Volunteers would be trained to support the achievement and maintenance of the highest level of independent living; however, they would not provide professional medical services, administrative support services, or institutional care.
- Corps members would receive living allowances and benefits, including health insurance coverage, during their volunteer period, and would be eligible for tuition assistance or loan repayment after they complete their assignment.
- Volunteers would be assigned to work in areas that have a shortage of services or a high concentration of low-income or minority individuals.
The Alliance is proud to endorse this legislation and encourage other advocates to spread the word. Find the official press release here.