Letter to Congressional Leaders Outlines Additional Steps Necessary to Support Caregivers During COVID-19
AMERICUS, GEORGIA – Dr. Jennifer Olsen, the Executive Director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI), sent a letter to Congressional leaders applauding the current caregiver provisions within the HEALS Act and HEROES Act and outlining additional steps necessary to further prioritize support for unpaid family caregivers.
“There are more than 53 million unpaid caregivers across America, and they are an essential force on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Caregiving can be a stressful and isolating experience in the best of times, and during this pandemic, those stressors have been further exacerbated as caregivers lose access to traditional supports and respite opportunities,” said Olsen. “Caregiving is a critical issue of public health, and any COVID relief package must provide protection and supports that meet the unique needs of caregivers.”
In her letter, which is addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate President Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Olsen thanks Congress for the inclusion of three key provisions in current relief efforts:
- Extending stimulus check financial support to dependents of all ages.
- Extending telehealth options, benefiting both caregivers and their loved ones by reducing the need to leave home for non-urgent care.
- Continuing interventions for food security, especially for older Americans and those in rural communities – like Americus, where RCI is based – who are less likely to have access to online and delivery options.
She goes on to ask Congress to consider additional provisions in the next iteration of relief legislation:
- Incorporate caregivers into current plans to study the long-term effects of COVID-19
- Expand paid family leave beyond childcare to include eldercare.
- Ensure family caregiver access to grants through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Olsen and her team at RCI advocate for caregivers at the local, state, and national policymaking levels. In June, Olsen similarly reached out to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp with recommendations on how best to support caregivers as part of the state’s COVID-19 response effort. Among RCI’s recommendations was a request to establish a caregiver-focused role on the Georgia Coronavirus Task Force, and to provide paid leave and paid sick time to caregivers to offset the nationwide care workforce shortage.
Learn more about RCI and their work supporting caregivers nationwide at www.RosalynnCarter.org.
About RCI: The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving promotes the health, strength, and resilience of caregivers throughout the United States. Established in 1987 by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, the Institute’s priority is the unpaid family caregiver: those individuals who care for a relative, friend, or loved one. To learn more about RCI, its advocacy, how to participate in programs or build a partnership, visit www.rosalynncarter.org.