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Will Community Supports for Family Caregivers Survive?

Editor’s note (Feb. 2, 2012): There is a petition against the proposed cuts to the California Caregiver Resource Centers. You can view and sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/dont-balance-californias-budget-on-the-backs-of-family-caregivers

April 7, 2011

Total dollar valuation of unpaid services family caregivers provide in state: 48 billion
Total dollar amount of state funds for family caregivers: 2.9 million
Total public investment per 4 million family caregivers in state: 72 cents
Total value of family caregivers to their families and society: priceless

Thirty years ago, California was the first state to recognize the contributions and challenges facing family caregivers in landmark legislation. As a result, the state developed a systematic response to families that was grounded in the latest evidence-based practices and recommendations from model programs from around the country. The California Caregiver Resource Centers were seen as a model for other states and the extensive data collected and analyzed on caregivers showed improvement for families and those they cared for. Wherever you lived in the state, you had access to well-trained staff ready to handle life’s emergencies and the day-to-day challenges faced by caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s and other cognitive impairments.

Now this support may well disappear in this next budget cycle unless the gap is closed with extension of current taxes and fees that are proposed for a vote by all Californians. In a letter to Senator Mark Leno (February 10, 2011), the Legislative Analyst Office offers a view of what might be cut to make up the 13.5 billion dollar difference between what has already been cut in the Governor’s budget proposal and what might be cut if these current taxes are not extended.

In this proposed scenario, the Caregiver Resource Centers are eliminated along with:

•Adult Protective Services program (for protection of frail older adults in cases of physical and financial abuse)
•Health and Human Services Agency (that provides leadership and coordination between all relevant agencies)
•Department of Aging
•Reduction of support for In Home Support Services providers to receive minimum wage

with additional cuts or elimination of many vital programs that affect the quality of life in the state across education, health, social services, corrections and the environment.

These cuts would be on top of significant reductions for home and community based services from In Home Support Services, Multi Service Senior Program (case management for frail elderly), Adult Day Health Care programs and other programs already in the Governor’s budget for next year.

It is not clear whether the recommendations from the Legislative Analyst Office will come to pass – it is just one scenario albeit from a knowledgeable source.

Let’s now add a dash of data to this scenario: Starting January 1, 2010, ten thousand (10,000) baby boomers turn 65 every day for the next 19 years in the U.S. Where will the supports be for them – for you – when all the systems have been dismantled?

Editor’s note (Feb. 2, 2012): You can view and sign the petition against cutting funding for the California Caregiver Resource Centers here: http://www.change.org/petitions/dont-balance-californias-budget-on-the-backs-of-family-caregivers