July 26, 2021

Senator Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Support Direct Care Workforce & Family Caregivers

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced her support for the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act, which would authorize over $1 billion to support the direct care workforce and family caregivers. As the U.S. recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to experience growing numbers of older adults and people with disabilities, investing in New York’s direct care workforce and family caregivers is more important than ever.   

According to recent statistics, there are 2.5 million unpaid caregivers throughout New York State, and more than 1 in 5 Americans are currently involved in family caregiving for loved ones who are ill, disabled, or elderly. Consequently, tens of millions of Americans leave the workforce entirely or significantly reduce their hours in order to care for loved ones at some point in their career. Providing better pay and benefits, education and training, and stronger career advancement opportunities to promote retention are key investments needed to meet the moment. This legislation is one-step forward in providing much-needed financial relief for caregivers and their families across our state. 

“We need to invest in our care infrastructure, which means investing in the caregiving workforce that makes all other work possible,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act would help support care workers, family caregivers, and importantly, the older adults and people with disabilities that depend on them to live full, independent lives.”

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, including self-directed workers and direct care supervisors or managers, 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, aimed at collaboration across federal agencies. 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 occupational frameworks, national standards, recruitment campaigns, pre-apprenticeship and on-the-job training opportunities, apprenticeship programs, career ladders or pathways, specializations or certifications, or other activities.
    • Exploring the national data gaps, workforce shortage areas, and data collection strategies 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.

To read the bill text for the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act, click here.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) are original co-sponsors of the legislation. 

This legislation is supported by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the Arc of the United States, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc. (NADSP), the Public Health Institute (PHI), the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).