Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Task Force Impacts Caregivers

During the past year, the Middle Class Task Force, chaired by VP Joe Biden, looked at exigent issues as well as long term concerns that impact America's middle class.  One challenge faced by the task force is helping families balance work and caregiver obligations.  Although budget changes and policy adjustments mostly address child and elderly care, caregivers of individuals with chronic conditions will also be impacted.

Section four of the White Hous Middle Class Task Force's Annual Report is entitled Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities.  The Care Giver Initiative is included in the fiscal year 2011 budget.  Through the National Caregiver Support Program, the initiative provides assistance to people over the age of 55 who are caregivers for younger family members.  The Lifespan Respite Care Program will also receive funding.  Additionally, the task force approaches the need for paid sick leave for employees.  The budget assigned 50 million dollars, to administer through grants to states, so that they may establish their own paid-leave programs.

There are also a number of ideas receiving further consideration in the coming year:
  • Increasing assistance for caregivers
    • by expanding the Dependent Care tax credit
    • studying the proposals of a new tax credit, not tied to any particular expense, for primary caregivers of people with long term needs
  • Address the employment needs of caregivers
    • consider expanding FMLA to employers with 25+ employees
    • encourage flexible work places and Right To Request adoption 
The budget and the task force will undoubtedly be the topic of many upcoming discussions.  To help us represent your needs, let us know what you think.  Are you happy with the budget appropriations for caregivers?  Is the Right To Request ambitious enough?  Remember, the NC Coalition for Paid Sick Days meeting is coming up.  Now is the time to tell us at the MS Society what you think! 
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