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“Caregiver Corps” Bill Proposed in U.S. Senate

October 2, 2014

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) introduced on September 16 a bill that would create a volunteer “Caregiver Corps” to provide support to elders and people with disabilities, allowing them to remain in their own homes and communities.

The Caregiver Corps is intended to fill the growing gap between the demand for home and community-based care and the supply of caregivers who can provide those services.

The bill’s text notes that more than 800,000 paid home health aides provided care for elders and people with disabilities in 2012, with an estimated 52 million to 65 million informal caregivers providing some form of additional assistance.

But, the bill continues, “even with the growing number of direct care workers available, there is a shortage in the number of people available to help support individuals who need extra assistance to remain in the community.”

The Caregiver Corps “will give middle class families another avenue for help or assistance as they struggle to support their own children and care for an aging parent,” Casey said at an August 21 event in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

The bill would establish a network of Caregiver Corps programs that would recruit, train, and conduct background checks on volunteer caregivers, as well as match them with elders and people with disabilities.

Volunteer caregivers would not replace home care workers. The bill says that volunteers would “serve as a companion to older individuals and individuals with disabilities.”

Local Corps programs could choose to compensate volunteers with “stipends, tuition incentives or academic credit, or the banking of volunteer hours.”

Each Caregiver Corps program would report annually to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

— by Matthew Ozga

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