July 21, 2016

ANN ARBOR, MI—Following a year of working with volunteers and advocates who submitted language addressing the transformative aspects of aging and family caregiving in 20 state party platforms through the Family Caregiver Platform Project (FCPP), Altarum’s Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness is gratified that the draft Democratic Party platform includes strong language supporting family caregivers:

“Our work and family policies must also ease the burden on family caregivers, in part by creating a strong, stable workforce to help meet families’ needs. We will take steps to expand and strengthen the homecare workforce. We will increase childcare investments to make quality childcare more affordable, boost wages for childcare workers, and support the millions of people paying for, coordinating, or providing care for aging relatives or those with disabilities."

The final GOP national party platform approved in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18th, states:

“Our aging population must have access to safe and affordable care. Because most seniors desire to age at home, we will make homecare a priority in public policy and will implement programs to protect against elder abuse."

The FCPP was established to include caregiving issues in state party political platforms across the country by encouraging grassroots efforts to educate and motivate policymakers to improve state and federal support for family caregivers. FCPP empowered, trained, and activated individual volunteers and organizations to raise awareness of caregiving issues by using the state platform adoption process. A platform is a declaration of a party’s stance on issues. These statements of values are important mechanisms for political action.

The draft Democratic platform, which will be finalized at the national convention next week in Philadelphia, also implicitly recognizes family caregivers in a section addressing reforms of the Social Security program:

“Democrats will expand Social Security so that every American can retire with dignity and respect, including women who are shortchanged by the current system because they are widowed or took time out of the workforce to care for their children, aging parents, or ailing family members."

Neither national party platform specifically discusses expansion of long-term supports and services. Both strongly support further work to promote opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

At the state level, advocates working with the Family Caregiver Platform Project successfully submitted 20 planks and resolutions calling for policymakers to improve the support of families struggling with the pressures of caring for loved ones who are living with serious illnesses and disabilities.

In Mississippi, a bipartisan concurrent resolution approved unanimously in the spring of 2016 calls for “providing the educational resources and skills necessary to provide senior citizens and individuals with special needs the appropriate and adequate level of care.”

Specifically, the resolution states:

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE SENATE CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do recognize and support the important role that family caregivers play in Mississippi and we support policies and initiatives to provide the support and training needed to make family caregiving more feasible, affordable and effective.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we encourage efforts at the state and national level to analyze population demographic trends to determine both current and future service requirements for care recipients and caregivers, and to permit data-driven policy and program recommendations about our aging populations and the workforce development needed to empower those who need care to heal, age and live in peace.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we encourage employers to establish policies that recognize the impact that caregiving can have on workers, encouraging employers to find ways to support their workers during difficult family times, and we encourage the creation of volunteer "Caregiver Corps" to provide nonmedical assistance and companionship to frail elders and others with disability at no public expense.

In other states, submissions in the form of planks were made to the Arizona Democratic Party; Arkansas Republican Party; Colorado Democratic Party; Illinois Republican Party; Indiana Democratic Party; Iowa Republican and Democratic Parties; Maine Democratic Party; Minnesota Democratic legislative resolution; Minnesota Republican Party; Nebraska Republican and Democratic Parties; New Hampshire Democratic Party; New Mexico Democratic Party; Oregon Democratic Party; Vermont Democratic Party; and Washington State Democratic Party.

On behalf of the Family Caregiver Platform Project, we salute policymakers, in both parties and at all levels of government, for acknowledging the challenges faced by tens of millions of family caregivers. With the upcoming release of a National Academy of Medicine report on family caregiving this fall, and ongoing work spearheaded by a bipartisan, bicameral congressional caucus, we have high expectations that making substantial progress in our health and social services delivery systems to provide better support to caring families across the country is not only possible, but inevitable.

If you would like more information about specific state initiatives and how to find like-minded advocates, send an email to info@medicaring.org. To contact our national partners, click on the links below.

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Family Caregiver Platform Project national partners and endorsers:

Contact Information
Sarah Litton
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
202-772-5062
press@altarum.org

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Altarum is a nonprofit organization that creates and implements solutions to advance health among vulnerable and publicly-insured populations.