The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in January 2018, requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and maintain a strategy to recognize and support the more than 43 million Americans who serve as unpaid caregivers. The RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council charged with making recommendations on the strategy had its first meeting in August 2019.
Across America, family caregivers help parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities and other loved ones to live independently. They prepare meals, handle finances, manage medications, drive to doctors’ appointments, help with bathing and dressing, perform complex medical tasks and more — all so loved ones can live at home.
These family caregivers have a big job, but some basic support — and commonsense solutions — can help make their big responsibilities a little bit easier. The RAISE Act aims to do this by establishing a national family caregiving agenda and improving coordination across government programs that support caregivers and care recipients. Goals include:
- Improving the collection and sharing of information on family caregiving, especially as it relates to promising practices and innovative models for care.
- To better coordinate and assess existing federal activities to recognize and support family caregivers, to maximize those programs' effectiveness and avoid duplication.
- Assisting and informing state and local efforts to support family caregivers.
Family Caregiving Advisory Council
The act directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to appoint the Advisory Council to make recommendations on the new strategy. The council will advise HHS on effective models of family caregiving and support to family caregivers and make recommendations to improve coordination across federal programs related to caregiving. Its report will guide the HHS secretary in developing a national strategy, according to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the HHS agency overseeing the council's work.
The 30-member group includes representatives from the public and private sectors. Among them are:
- family caregivers
- older adults and persons with disabilities
- providers of health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS)
- state and local officials
Fifteen voting members are drawn from these and other constituencies and 15 advisory members come from federal departments and agencies. One of the voting members is Catherine Alicia Georges, AARP national volunteer president and a former caregiver to her late husband.
The council will meet four times during its first year and three times each year thereafter, and the meetings be open to the public, the ACL says. (Some meetings will be virtual and open the public via webinar.) Schedule information will be posted on the Advisory Council website.
RAISE Act priorities
The national strategy will identify recommended actions that communities, providers, government and other entities are taking and may take to recognize and support family caregivers. Priorities include:
- Promoting greater adoption of person- and family-centered care in all health and LTSS settings, with the person and the family caregiver (as appropriate) at the center of care teams.
- Assessment and service planning (including care transitions and coordination) involving care recipients and family caregivers.
- Information, education, training supports, referral and care coordination.
- Financial security and workplace issues for caregivers.
- Improving respite care options.
The RAISE Act called for a national family caregiving strategy to be prepared 18 months after the measure was signed, but that period has passed. ACL says it is working with Advisory Council members to complete its report as quickly as possible, but there is currently no set time frame.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in July 2015. It has been updated with more recent information.