Senate bill introduced to reauthorize the Older Americans Act

On January 26, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill (S. 2037) to reauthorize the Older Americans Act. Among other things, the Older Americans Act authorizes the National Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) to provide: 1) information to caregivers about available services, 2) assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services, 3) individual counseling, 4) organization of support groups, and caregiver training, 5) respite care, and 6) supplemental services, on a limited basis. Unfortunately, these critically needed services are unavailable to the majority of caregivers of persons with I/DD as caregivers of persons with disabilities who are under the age of 60 are not eligible for the FCSP. Family support needs of persons with I/DD are particularly acute and growing. According to The Arc’s Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) survey, most family caregivers of persons with I/DD provide more than 40 hours of care per week (including 40% who provide more than 80 hours of care per week). In addition, there are over 730,000 aging caregivers of persons with I/DD who require greater assistance in managing their caregiving responsibilities for their adult children. As our society continues to depend on family caregivers, it is essential to meet their needs in order to continue providing care in the community instead of more costly and unwanted institutions. The Arc will work to ensure that caregivers of individuals with disabilities under the age of 60 are eligible for services under the FCSP.

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