WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced a bipartisan amendment to build and strengthen America’s caregiving workforce.
The amendment to the fiscal year 2019 Defense-Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations minibus would dedicate $5 million in grants to place volunteers in communities to care for seniors and individuals with disabilities and help them remain independent, also known as the “Care Corps” program. The funding would provide volunteers with health insurance and other benefits throughout their service, along with an educational award that can be used to pay future education costs or loans. The Care Corps program would be permanently authorized in legislation introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).
“This investment in caregiving and health services would have major benefits for New Mexico, where hundreds of thousands of individuals provide unpaid care to their family members each year,” said Udall. “With a rapidly growing senior population, it is imperative that we provide the right level of care and services to empower seniors and people with disabilities to live independently – and that we support the caregivers who are doing essential work across New Mexico and the nation. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I won’t stop working on bold, new solutions like Care Corps to meet our state’s needs.”
“The Care Corps program is a win-win,” said Capito. “As a former caregiver for my parents, I understand the struggles caregivers face day to day. For the thousands of individuals caregiving across West Virginia and the rest of the country, this program offers invaluable support. At the same time, Care Corps also helps to keep people with disabilities and aging adults independent at home, promoting healthier lives and intergenerational relationships.”
“As the first AmeriCorps alum in Congress, I know first-hand that there is no venture more rewarding than working to improve the lives of those around us,” said Heinrich. “We need to fill the gaps that will only grow as an aging population creates more demand for care. I am proud to support this amendment to give young adults and others a similar opportunity to address this need, while also helping the thousands of Americans who are already providing essential care for their family members. I applaud Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham’s leadership in creating the innovative idea of a Care Corps program. I will continue to support our nation’s caregivers and work to ensure all Americans, including seniors and individuals with disabilities, have the health care they deserve.”
“As a caregiver myself, I know how tough it can be to care for a loved one, and how little support is available to those doing this critical work,” said Lujan Grisham. “One of my top priorities, since being elected to Congress nearly 6 years ago, has been to create a national service caregiving volunteer program. Care Corps will help address the increasing demand for caregiving in New Mexico and the nation, as well as give volunteers the experience of working with seniors, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. Recently, we came one step closer to funding this bipartisan program when we successfully secured $5 million for Care Corps grants in the House Health and Human Services Appropriations bill. I am extremely grateful to Senators Udall, Capito, and Heinrich for their support and efforts to build on this important progress in the Senate. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues so that this funding is passed into law and Care Corps can begin to benefit families, caregivers, and individuals in need of care across the country."
Nationally, the United States is expected to require at least one million more direct care workers over the next 10 years, and by 2030 Americans older than 65 will make up nearly 20% of the population. The Care Corps program will help meet this growing demand for care while providing opportunities for volunteers to build intergenerational community relationships.