This year is Family Caregiver Alliance’s 25th Anniversary. It’s hard to believe that in such a short time, a grassroots effort that began in a church basement in San Francisco could grow into a statewide system of Caregiver Resource Centers and the National Center on Caregiving!
We are proud to have played—and continue to play—a leadership role in the recognition and development of services, policies, research and systems that support caregivers throughout the country.
We did not embark on this journey alone. Many individual caregivers spoke up and shared their personal stories so policy makers and program developers could learn and shape their responses to the challenges presented.
Co-founders Anne Bashkiroff and Suzanne Harris remain active with the organization to this day, as does early supporter and current Board Member William Lynch. We acknowledge the policy makers who listened and acted on behalf of family caregivers, among them the Honorable Art Agnos, former Mayor of San Francisco, who carried both pieces of state legislation, most importantly the Comprehensive Act for Families and Caregivers of Brain-Impaired Adults (Chapter 1658, Statutes of 1984 as amended), which established the Statewide Caregiver Resource Centers.
More recently, legislators from both sides of the aisle have been listening—often inspired by their own personal experiences. California Assemblyman Kevin Shelley helped gain a budget augmentation for the Caregiver Resource Center system in 1998. Councilwoman Carolyn Edmonds while in Washington’s legislature, sponsored a caregiver support bill that passed in record time. FCA is pleased to have provided the information and experience to aid in these efforts. And the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which recently received increased funding for 2002, used California’s Caregiver Resource Center system as one of its models.
While we have gained much over the past 25 years, we have much farther to go. Shifting demographics and the aging of the Baby Boomers means that management of chronic impairments will drive the policies and practices of health and social service systems for years to come. As a nation, we are not prepared for the challenges ahead.
Again, families, partners and friends will continue to provide the lion’s share of long-term care. Again, Family Caregiver Alliance, with the formation of the National Center on Caregiving, stands ready to take our expertise in service delivery to caregivers and help shape future policies and programs that support and sustain families who provide care, regardless of where they live.
We thank those who have shared our journey, and look forward to working with all of you in the future.
Kathleen A. Kelly
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