WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) today announced the introduction of the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act of 2015. This legislation would implement the bipartisan recommendation of the federal Commission on Long-Term Care that Congress require the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers, similar in scope to the national strategy developed to address Alzheimer’s disease.

This bipartisan legislation would require the development, maintenance, and updating of an integrated national strategy to recognize and support family caregivers. The bill would bring together relevant federal agencies and others from the private and public sectors, such as family caregivers, older adults and persons with disabilities, health care and Long Term Support Services (LTSS) providers, employers, relevant industries, state and local officials, and others on an advisory council to advise and make recommendations. The strategy would identify specific actions that government, communities, providers, employers, and others can take to recognize and support family caregivers.

“The importance of family caregivers can’t be overstated. In many cases, family caregivers help with activities such as eating, bathing, transportation, managing finances, and paying for services to help their loved ones,” Harper said. “This bipartisan legislation demonstrates that family caregivers are the most important source of support for many people with chronic conditions, disabilities, or functional limitations.”

“There is increasing need to come together to better understand the needs of our caregivers across America,” Castor said. “I am proud to introduce today, along with U.S. Reps. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) the bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act in the U.S. House of Representatives to create a much-needed National Family Caregiving Strategy with recommendations by experts related to support services, training, workplace policies and others to better support caregivers.”

“As a nurse for more than 40 years and a daughter of elderly parents, caregiving is something that I have dealt with both personally and professionally,” Black said. “For this reason, I know firsthand that caring for loved ones can be a difficult and stressful responsibility, especially when caregivers lack the resources and support necessary to provide family members with the care they deserve. I am proud to be a sponsor of legislation that will better prepare caregivers to fulfill the important role they play in our communities and enable our loved ones to continue living meaningful, productive lives.”

“This legislation will bring together a wide array of stakeholders, allowing Congress to create new and meaningful solutions to our nation’s caregiving crisis,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said. “American families deserve a comprehensive plan to address the issues faced by caregivers, their families and those receiving care.”

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act of 2015 outlines that there will be 18 months for the development of an initial strategy, followed by annual updates of the strategy. The bill would improve the collection and sharing of information, including related to evidence-based or promising practices and innovative models regarding family caregiving; better coordinate, maximize the effectiveness, and avoid unnecessary duplication of federal government activities to recognize and support family caregivers; assess federal programs around family caregiving; and address disparities and meet the needs of the diverse caregiving population. Development of the national strategy will require no new funding and the Advisory Council will sunset in 15 years.