En español | 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 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 these:
• Improving the collection and sharing of information on family caregiving, especially as it relates to promising practices and innovative models for care.
• Better coordinating and assessing existing federal programs to recognize and support family caregivers, maximize their 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 an advisory council to make recommendations on the new strategy.
The council will advise the department 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 department's secretary in developing a national strategy, according to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the agency overseeing the council's work.
The 30-member group includes representatives from the public and private sectors. Among them:
- Older adults and persons with disabilities
- Providers of health care and long-term services and supports
- 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 who was caregiver to her late husband.
The council will meet four times during its first year and three times each year after that, 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 council will recommend actions that communities, government officials, providers and other entities can take to support family caregivers. Priorities include these:
• Greater adoption of person- and family-centered care in all health and long-term services settings. The recipient of care and the family caregiver should be at the center of care teams.
• Assessment of plans, including care transitions and coordination, involving loved ones and their family caregivers.
• An emphasis on financial security and workplace issues for caregivers
• The need to improve respite care options
• Support for education, information and training programs
The RAISE Act had 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 the group has no set time frame.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in July 2015. It has been updated with more recent information.