Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation that would create a national Caregiver Corps plan to aid families in Pennsylvania who provide care to aging or disabled relatives. As middle class Americans are increasingly sandwiched between the need to provide care for aging relatives, raise children and secure their own retirement, the Casey legislation would allow family caregivers a respite. The bill would connect the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with local volunteers to fill in the gaps in the current system so that volunteers can be better connected with families in need of assistance. HHS would provide the structure and guidelines needed to bolster locally driven efforts that connect families with willing volunteers.
“More and more Pennsylvanians are squeezed between raising children, caring for aging relatives and working to secure their own retirement,” Senator Casey said. “This legislation would support locally driven efforts that aid these sandwiched families and help our aging Pennsylvanians live full lives.”
Currently, more than 32 million Americans 65 and older suffer from chronic conditions, which over time may require assistance to help them live at home. There are also almost 38 million Americans of all ages who report having one or more disabilities. In comparison, there are only 52 to 65 million informal caregivers and 800,000 home health aides assisting adults to remain in their homes. The establishment of a Caregiver Corps can help “fill the gap” in assisting older adults and individuals with disabilities. Local Caregiver Corps programs can provide added support for informal volunteers. Caregiver Corps volunteers will not replace the hands-on assistance provided by direct care workers, rather the assistance provided by volunteers will supplement the critical work done by those in the direct care workforce.
What the Bill Would Do
The bill would amend Part P of Title III of the Public Health Service Act to establish the Caregiver Corps Program.
- An online toolkit and guidance will be developed so that local Caregiver Corps volunteer programs can be established and implemented.
- Local Caregiver Corps programs will be responsible for:
- Screening and background checks of Corps volunteers;
- Providing in-person orientation and training for Corps volunteers;
- Matching and monitoring volunteer assignments;
- Providing volunteer recognition;
- Maintaining records on the local Corps program’s activities.
- Caregiver Corps volunteers:
- Will be at least 18 years old;
- May serve for an initial period not to exceed 2 years;
- Will provide assistance and serve as a companion for an older individual or an individual with disabilities;
- Will not provide personal care or administer prescription medications; and
- May receive compensation (e.g., stipends, tuition incentives, academic credit, banking of volunteer hours) as determined by each local Corps program.
- Eligible individuals served by local Caregiver Corps programs will be:
- Adults over age 65, or
- Individuals who are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).