Nearly 1 in 5 Americans provide unpaid care to family members or loved ones
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, joined U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in introducing the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act—legislation that is included in Chairman Casey’s HCBS Access Act—to support the recruitment, training, and retention of direct care workers and family caregivers.
“The caregiving crisis in this country corners many Americans into upending their careers and living on poverty wages or performing unpaid caregiving for family members because they have no other options. This is not the way that a great Nation treats its workers and families,” said Chairman Casey. “This legislation would ensure that paid caregivers can receive family-sustaining wages and continue to provide essential care to older adults and people with disabilities.”
Low wages and high turnover have long contributed to staffing shortages in the direct care workforce, which provides crucial support to older Americans, people with disabilities, and other Americans with chronic conditions. Direct care workers include home health and personal care aides and certified nursing assistants who provide long-term care services. Family caregivers are individuals who provide at-home assistance—such as help feeding, grooming, or providing transportation—to a family member, partner, or friend. The caregivers providing these life-sustaining services often live in poverty; direct care workers earn a median wage of roughly $14 per hour.
Now, with a growing number of older adults and people with disabilities in the U.S., shortages threaten to impact even more families. Investments in recruitment and retention strategies such as better pay and benefits, education and training enhancements, and better career advancement opportunities can help address the workforce shortage and help more families get the care they need. Specifically, the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act would:
- Direct the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration on Community Living (ACL), to award grants to states or other eligible entities for initiatives to build, retain, train, and otherwise promote the direct care workforce and to provide grants for states or other eligible entities for educational and training support for both paid and unpaid family caregivers.
- Direct ACL to develop a center to offer technical assistance to grant awardees and other entities interested in direct care workforce development and in supporting family caregivers. The assistance at the center includes:
- Working with states, key stakeholders, and other interested entities to establish career development and advancement strategies for direct care professionals, which may include national standards, recruitment campaigns, pre-apprenticeship and on-the-job training opportunities, apprenticeship programs, specializations or certifications, or other activities.
- Exploring the workforce shortage areas for direct care professionals.
- Developing recommendations for training and education curricula for direct care professionals and family caregivers.
- Disseminating information and best practices from lessons learned through the grants.
Read more about the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act here.