As our 25th Anniversary Year draws to a close, we are happy to report on the increased recognition of the important role caregivers play in providing assistance to family and friends who need help.
First, we are especially pleased to report on the passage of the first-in-the-nation comprehensive Paid Family Leave Act (SB 1661). As of 2004, California will provide a partial salary for those persons taking leave from work to care for a loved one. Funded by employee contributions to State Disability Insurance, the bill allows employees up to six weeks of paid time off for childbirth, adoption,or the care of a seriously ill family member, including domestic partners.
Since the majority of caregivers under age 65 are in the workforce, just about everyone eventually faces the choice of taking time off to care for a family member or staying on the job. Many caregivers cannot afford to take unpaid time off. The passage of SB 1661 takes a step in the right direction of recognizing the changing role of the family, of understanding workforce and caregiving issues, and acknowledging the growing demand on family members to be providers or planners of care.
We applaud the efforts of the National Partnership for Women and Families for their advocacy and policy work to develop the bill in California, Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) for her leadership in the legislature as principal author, the many families and organizations who sent letters and emails in support, and Governor Gray Davis for his signature on the legislation.
FCA Awarded AOA Grant
We are also pleased to announce that Family Caregiver Alliance has received a grant to conduct a 50-state survey under our National Center on Caregiving banner to review the extent of state caregiver support programs and legislation across the country. The project, entitled “The State of the States in Family Caregiver Support,” is funded by the Administration on Aging and will be completed in Spring 2004. Working with the National Conference of State Legislatures, data from the comprehensive national study will be made available on FCA’s website and in print for use by policy makers, program planners, consumers and advocates.
A Month to Rejoice
November is National Caregivers Month—a time to reflect, recognize and rejoice in the efforts of family and friends in caring communities throughout the country. It is often said that caregivers don’t identify with being “caregivers.” That they are just friends helping friends, families taking care of their own, people creating communities. However you identify yourself, Family Caregiver Alliance applauds your work, recognizes your tireless contributions and gives a voice to everyone’s collective efforts. While we know you make difficult choices daily, we also want you to know that you are not alone. Help and support are available and we can help you locate assistance in your community. This month we celebrate the daily efforts of you, the caregivers, and those working in their communities, legislatures and workplaces to make it easier to juggle all the demands on your time.
The staff and Board join me in wishing you and your families a Happy and Peaceful Holiday Season.
Kathleen A. Kelly
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