How the National Party Platforms Address Caregiving

The Republican and Democratic parties approved their national platforms at their conventions in July 2016. You can learn more on our pages for the Democratic National Platform and the Republican National Platform.

72 Nonprofit Organizations Call for Caregiving Language

The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations ( submitted draft language to the platform committees of both political parties. The LCAO is a coalition of 72 member associations dedicated to preserving and strengthening the well-being of America’s older population. Their recommendations are consistent with the approach the Family Caregiver Platform Project has taken. For example, the LCAO letter has a section titled “Support for Caregiving” that reads, in part:

We are committed to helping family caregivers by developing a long-term services and supports system that both expands access to home and community-based services and ensures a qualified interdisciplinary workforce that is appropriately trained and properly compensated. We believe it is critical to expand federal opportunities to support family caregivers through increasing federal funding for existing programs that help caregivers, including caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We believe it is important to ensure that family caregivers have an explicit role in care plans and the services and supports they need to provide care; resources to alleviate financial hardships and promote retirement security; and access to flexible employment policies. We also believe it is important to encourage the creation of a volunteer “caregiver corps.”

Keep In Touch!

If you want to keep informed about efforts to get family caregiving on political platforms nationally, you can subscribe to our mailing list or send an email message to You can make a difference!

Family Caregiver Platform Project Mobilizes Nationwide

You can have a real impact this political season by connecting up with the Family Caregiver Platform Project (FCPP), which works to get caregiving issues included in as many state party platforms as possible. The pace of political activity is already breathtaking. Want to be part of it? Here’s how.

The FCPP is a national collaborative effort between major organizations. Together with its national partners, the FCPP is encouraging nonpartisan grassroots efforts to educate and motivate policymakers to improve state and federal support for family caregivers and older adults. The FCPP works with individual volunteers and organizations to raise awareness of caregiving issues. It doesn’t matter which party you belong to! We care about the issues, not the parties themselves.

As the 2016 political season heats up, state parties have narrow windows to take action within the next few weeks and months. Several states are starting caucus activity related to presidential races. Others will begin shortly, giving you an opportunity to raise caregiving issues. You can download customizable platform language templates to minimize the effort to prepare submissions to caucus meetings and platform committees.

To get involved, subscribe to the FCPP monthly update at and read an overview of your state party platform process with key dates. You can send the FCPP an email message at

The FCPP is supported by a grant from the Lawrence & Rebecca Stern Family Foundation to The Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness (CECAI) at Altarum Institute. The project is also made possible through the Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program, through the generous support of The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John A. Hartford Foundation.

Why Political Platforms Matter

Adopting better policies in state party platforms can be a first step in creating a positive policy climate nationally. A platform is a declaration of where a party stands on issues. Not all parties adopt a state platform. Some adopt party resolutions that are statements of policy, not “platforms,” but that help guide legislative initiatives within the state. Whatever the parties call them, these statements of values are important guidance mechanisms for political action within a state.

Eventually, aging people need improved federal aging policies, not just state-by-state advances. There is a relationship between state and federal policy in which some improvements will be demonstrated first at the state level, and later disseminated nationally. In other cases, federal rule changes will affect caregiving options across many states.

About Caregiving

As millions of us embrace the gift of longer lives in the 21st century, our communities will increasingly need to support their elderly residents so that these residents can age in place and live in dignity. Seven out of 10 of us will need assistance from another person. We will need help with simple activities such as eating, bathing, and moving from place to place. That’s why we need a community that cares.

Unless we act to make home caregiving more feasible for more people, professional care will be the only alternative. Institutional care comes at a high cost, often supported by taxes. Few people would choose institutional care if home care were possible. Allowing people to remain at home for as long as feasible is both more compassionate and more cost-effective.

There are many kinds of families and community needs. Recognizing diversity is important to all of us. The FCPP uses the word “family” to mean all those who are bound to the person who is ill or disabled by friendship, relationship, or law. There are also many ways to improve the lives of caregivers. Options for action vary by state and community.

What Is Urgent Now?

As of January, 2016, the following state parties have actionable filing deadlines within the next three months. If you can help the FCPP with any of those submissions, please send an email message to; the FCPP can help you determine the next step for your particular state. You can also check the FCPP website to read an overview of your state party process with key dates.

● Alabama: Republicans
● Alaska: both parties
● Arizona: both parties
● Arkansas: both parties
● California: Democrats
● Colorado: both parties
● District of Columbia: Republicans
● Georgia: Democrats
● Hawaii: both parties
● Indiana: both parties
● Iowa: both parties
● Kansas: Republicans
● Maine: both parties
● Minnesota: both parties
● Mississippi: both parties
● Montana: Democrats
● Nebraska: both parties
● Nevada: both parties
● New Hampshire: Democrats
● New Mexico: both parties
● North Carolina: both parties
● North Dakota: both parties
● Oklahoma: Republicans
● Oregon: both parties
● South Carolina: both parties
● South Dakota: both parties
● Texas: both parties
● Utah: both parties
● Vermont: Democrats
● Washington: both parties
● Wisconsin: both parties
● Wyoming: both parties

2015 Submissions

The FCPP had a busy year in 2015. Many volunteers helped to submit language proposals in 2015. Volunteers found that the process was easy and fun. Most parties welcome participation by people within their state and are quite grateful for suggestions.

● The FCPP submitted language to the National Republican Party via the party website in December 2015, with the help of caregiver advocates in New York and Illinois.
● The Arizona Democratic Party received a platform submission in August 2015 and a resolution proposal shortly thereafter.
● The Arkansas Republican Party received a platform submission in December 2015.
● The California Democratic Party received platform submissions in October and November 2015.
● The California Republican Party received a platform submission in September 2015 but subsequently adopted its 2016 platform without including language relating to caregivers.
● The Georgia Democratic Party received a platform submission in December 2015.
● The Maine Democratic Party received a platform submission in December 2015.
● The New Mexico Republican Party received a platform submission in December 2015.
● The Oregon Democratic Party received a platform submission in December 2015.
● The Vermont Democratic Party received a platform submission in October 2015.

Want to Know More?

  • Visit the Family Caregiver Platform Project website at
  • Send an email message to to learn more about how to get involved.

Focus on Community Catalyst

The Family Caregiver Platform Project (FCPP) is pleased to have Community Catalyst as one of our National Partners. Working together we can bring about changes to better serve the needs of family caregivers. Community Catalyst is a consumer advocacy organization working in 40 states. Kate Villers, President and Founder of Community Catalyst, says of their mission, “Each state is different, with a different political environment, so there is no single, cookie-cutter approach.“

Community Catalyst’s state-based partners provide leadership to state and local consumer organizations, policymakers, and foundations. Their experts assist state activists with research information, technical support, and political strategies to ensure consumers have a voice in decisions that affect their health. They share our view that community leadership is essential to transform the health care and social services that caregivers depend on.

Community Catalyst ran a guest editorial about the FCPP in the January 14, 2016 issue of their newsletter, The Dual Agenda. The piece by Victoria Walker, MD, explains how the goals of the FCPP overlap with those of Community Catalyst. You can subscribe to The Dual Agenda newsletter at

If any issue can unite communities across America it is caregiving. It’s easy and fun to bring caregiver issues to the attention of your local representatives. Many states are organizing now in preparation for caucuses and conventions. Go to Find Your State to discover upcoming events you can attend. You can download model language that can be customized for platform plank or resolution submission in your own state.

We urgently need your help. You can make a difference!

Improve Quality and Reduce Costs by Supporting Family Caregivers

Supporting family caregivers can reduce the total cost of care for frail elders while improving their quality of life. It’s a win-win situation that’s good both for our hearts and our pocketbooks.

Institutional care, whether in a nursing home or hospital, comes at a high cost often paid for by Medicaid or Medicare.[1] The expense of nursing home care will soon become unsustainable for state Medicaid budgets as our population ages. Seniors over age 65 will double[2] and those over 85 will triple by the year 2050.[3] Supporting family caregivers is one of our best options to keep costs down while helping seniors live independently, which is what most of them want.

We have evidence that supporting caregivers has positive benefits for everyone. For example, a review of research literature provides encouraging indications that supporting people who care for someone with dementia often has positive effects on the care recipients’ behavior, function, and the length of time they remain at home.[4] Interventions adapted to the individualized needs of both dementia patients and their caregivers help to reduce caregiver burden and prevent or delay elders’ institutionalization.[5]

Medicare does not cover the cost of nursing homes. The largest share of Medicare spending is for hospital services.[6] Supporting family caregivers is crucial in that arena too. Family caregivers help elders avoid hospitalization by overseeing physician visits, nutritional needs and medication schedules. Should their care recipient need to be hospitalized, a critical link in transitional care will be the family caregiver, though they are commonly thought of mainly as “visitors” rather than a crucial part of the care team.[7]

Preventable hospital readmissions are a big part of unnecessary medical spending. Hospital readmissions cost Medicare $26 billion annually and $17 billion is considered avoidable.[8] Transitions between care settings are critical points where breakdowns in communication can result in readmission to the hospital. Substantial savings could be realized if hospitals, doctors, and community programs worked together with caregivers to create a clear caregiving plan at the time of hospital discharge.[9]

Simply recognizing the economic impact of family caregiving would help us realize that the care system can’t function without it. About 40 million Americans provide unpaid care for a family member or friend who is ill, disabled or aged.[10] This invisible workforce carries out its tasks as a labor of love, expecting little in return. Family members help with activities of daily living, coordinate health care services and perform complex medical tasks that used to be relegated to nursing. While the sense of connection caregivers provide for loved ones may be priceless, their service has a great economic impact. The hours of care they supply has been valued at approximately $470 billion.[11]

Despite best intentions, caregiving can be daunting, especially when recipients have complex health conditions or cognitive impairments like dementia.[12] In a recent national study examining the experiences of family caregivers of older adults, caregivers reported feeling exhausted, having too much to do, and little time for themselves.[13] One study found that the chief risk of institutionalization is not a decline in the health of care recipients, but a decline in the health of their caregivers.[14] It therefore makes sense, both economically and as an act of human decency, to provide support for caregivers so they can continue to keep their loved ones at home, an option most would prefer.


[1] Reaves, E L, and M B Musumeci. “Medicaid and Long-Term Services and Supports: A Primer.” Kaiser Family Foundation. May 8, 2015. (Accessed November 3, 2015).

[2] “Administration on Aging: Aging Statistics.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Community Living. (Accessed August 19, 2015.)

[3] “Selected Long-term Care Statistics” Family Caregiver Alliance. (Accessed August 19, 2015.)

[4] “Dementia: A NICE-SCIE Guideline on Supporting People with Dementia and Their Carers in Health and Social Care; NICE Clinical Practice Guidelines, No. 42.” Social Care Institute for Excellence. Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society: 2007. (Accessed November 3, 2015).

[5] Brodaty, H, A Green, and A Koschera. “Meta-analysis of Psychosocial Interventions for Caregivers of People with Dementia.” Journal of the American Geriatric Society 51, no. 5 (2003):657–664. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[6] Blum, J. “Testimony on Improving Quality, Lowering Costs: The Role of Health Care Delivery System.” Presentation to the US Senate Committee on Homeland Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, November 10, 2011. US Department of Health and Human Services. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[7] Reinhard, S, L Feinberg, R Choula, and A Houser. “Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update; Undeniable Progress but Big Gaps Remain.” AARP Public Policy Institute. July 2015. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[8] Lavizzo-Mourey, R. “The Human Face of Hospital Readmissions.” Health Affairs Blog. March 14, 2013. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[9] Gibson, M J, K A Kelly, and A K Kaplan. “Family Caregiving and Transitional Care: A Critical Review.” October 2012. Family Caregiver Alliance. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[10] Reinhard, S, L Feinberg, R Choula, and A Houser. “Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update; Undeniable Progress but Big Gaps Remain.” AARP Public Policy Institute. July 2015. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[11] Reinhard, S, L Feinberg, R Choula, and A Houser. “Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update; Undeniable Progress but Big Gaps Remain.” AARP Public Policy Institute. July 2015. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[12] Reinhard, S, L Feinberg, R Choula, and A Houser. “Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update; Undeniable Progress but Big Gaps Remain.” AARP Public Policy Institute. July 2015. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[13] Spillman, B C, J Wolff, V A Freedman, and J D Kasper. “Informal Caregiving for Older Americans: An Analysis of the 2011 National Study of Caregiving.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. April 2014. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

[14] Talley, R C, and J E Crews. “Framing the Public Health of Caregiving.” American Journal of Public Health 97, no. 2 (February 2007):224-228 and corrected 97, no. 3 (March 2007):393, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.059337. (Accessed November 3, 2015)

Time for Family Caregivers to Be Eldercare Activists

The Family Caregiver Platform Project (FCPP) has a number of national partner organizations that provide valuable support for caregivers and care recipients. Our partners are teaming up with us because they share our vision of making caregiver issues part of political discussions throughout the 2016 election cycle. The FCPP helps leverage the work of our partner organizations who are engaged in creating meaningful change through grassroots political actions. Members of our partner organizations are working actively in their states to make this effort a success.

One of our partners is Caring Across Generations, a national campaign that has helped build a coalition of more than 200 organizations advocating for innovation in long-term care. Its co-director, Ai-Jen Poo, believes that as our nation’s aging population soars, new outlooks on aging and caregiving are needed. She’s convinced we are at a moment where the American people will lead a cultural shift to demand better care for our most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly. In an interview in PBS’ Next Avenue, she described baby boomers as “a culture-driving, culture-changing generation.” She expects them to be involved decisively in driving caregiving policy change. But they cannot do it alone. Caring Across is mobilizing family members of all ages to lead the charge in making caregiving a national public policy priority. As Ai-Jen says, “It should be something that every candidate in next year’s presidential election cycle will have to answer for.”

The FCPP website,, provides a roadmap for anyone who wants to make their voice heard in their state political party. The FCPP provides model language that is a starting point for submission in your state. It also provides timelines for political party activities, and outlines ways to engage policymakers at the local level. Volunteers in California and Arizona have already succeeded in raising political awareness about family caregiving. You can do the same in your state.

This is a vital movement you can join now. The work we are doing will accelerate in 2016, as more state party platform committees convene to discuss what language will be included in their party statements about key issues.

Dayne DuVall

“As a caregiver for my father who passed away after thirteen years battling Alzheimer’s disease, I know first-hand the problems and frustrations that families face providing and financing care. Federal and state governments realize this is a growing problem since we all are living longer. It is imperative that family caregivers have a voice in policy decisions so that they know they have access to resources when they need them most.”

“Financial resources are a difficult topic because of budget constraints, but if governments realize that without the contribution of nearly a half trillion dollars annually from unpaid family caregivers they will be forced to find hard dollars to pay for these health care services.”

Dayne DuVall, Chief Operating Officer, National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care

Connie Siskowski

“The job of caregiving youth is to become educated; yet, it is tough to focus in school with the worries of adult-sized family caregiving responsibilities. The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) supports the efforts of the Family Caregiver Platform Project to educate leaders about the challenges children face as caregivers. The AACY encourages public policies that will support these children through high school graduation and help them become healthy, educated, productive adults.”

Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD
President and Founder
American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY)

Justice in Aging

“When older people are able to receive the long-term services and supports they need to age at home and in their communities, they not only have better health outcomes, but richer lives. By ensuring older adults remain an integral part of our families and communities, our lives are richer. Family caregivers need both financial and practical support in order to provide the care the older adults in their lives need to age in dignity. This is an issue that touches us all and highlights our interdependence. If we all work together, we can find and enact policy solutions at both the state and federal level.”

Kevin Prindiville
Executive Director
Justice in Aging

Get family caregiving into your state party platform

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