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LGBT: What response can I expect from state and federal programs that assist caregivers?

There are various state and federal programs designed to support caregivers, and they differ in their approach to issues related to sexual identity and gender identity. As part of the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the federal government created the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). This program distributes money to states, which in turn fund local Area Agencies on Aging to either provide services themselves or contract with community agencies to provide caregiver support. The legislative language authorizing the program is broad and inclusive, defining a family caregiver as “an adult family member, or another individual, who is an informal provider of in-home and community care to an older individual.” The types of services that are funded in your area by the NFCSP may include information, education, counseling, legal advice, and access to a respite or break from caregiving.

The LGBT sensitivity of the government agencies that provide these caregiver programs may vary from county to county and state to state. To find out more about the NFCSP services in your area, contact the Office on Aging or Area Agency on Aging in which the care receiver lives. To find your local Area Agency on Aging, call Eldercare Locator, toll free nationwide at (800) 677-1116, or visit FCA’s Services by State at https://www.caregiver.org/connecting-caregivers/services-by-state/

Through each state’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal in California) a number of services may be funded that support those who need care (such as adult day healthcare or in-home assistance). Some states have in-home support services programs that are “consumer directed”—the client hires and supervises a worker that he or she selects. You will find dealing with Social Security and Medicaid much easier if the care receiver has completed certain standard legal documents in which they designate you, your spouse, a partner, or a friend to act as agents on their behalf if they are incapacitated. Otherwise, it may be difficult for you to obtain information from these agencies. See the FCA fact sheet Legal Issues for LGBT Caregivers.