Spencer Blalock, LCSW, BCD, DHA

It is staggering to know that in Mississippi there are between 500,000 and 800,000 caregivers. These are individuals that are often overlooked for their sacrifice and quiet life-saving service. They care for loved ones with no promise of compensation, but based on the goodness of their hearts and a commitment to doing unto others as they would have done unto themselves. In Mississippi alone, each year they contribute over $5 Billion dollars of in-kind care that would have to be provided by institutions, facilities, or other professionals if the caregivers were not in place!

The Mississippi Caregivers Task Force studied the issue of caregiving in Mississippi and completed a report and blueprint for the governor and legislature in late 2014. In 2015, efforts of the Task Force were successful as the Caregiver Act was passed in Mississippi. Another important milestone in 2015 was the creation of the Mississippi Family Caregiver Coalition, a grassroots group whose aim is to engage providers and caregivers in advocacy efforts and pooling of caregiver resources. In 2016, members of the Task Force and Mississippi Family Caregiver Coalition came together to support the creation of the bipartisan Caregiver Resolution, as promoted by the Family Caregiver Platform Project (FCPP). It passed the Mississippi State Legislature unanimously in 2016.

We clearly have a great deal of work to do. We know that each state has different challenges and assets. From a policy standpoint, history demonstrates that three things must converge to make a change: a well-defined problem, an evidence-based solution, and political will of policymakers. When this happens, a policy window opens for a short time. This means that now is the time to frame this issue as a National Crisis in the making and study solutions that will show evidence of substantial impact for supporting caregivers.

I am extremely hopeful for better supports for Mississippi’s and U.S. Caregivers in the coming years.

— Spencer Blalock, LCSW, BCD, DHA, has served on The Mississippi Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists since 2011. In 2014, Governor Bryant appointed Mr. Blalock as Chair of the Mississippi Caregivers Task Force.

Portrait of Spencer Blalock, LCSW, BCD, DHA
Co-Chair of the Mississippi Family Caregiver Coalition

Photo Credit: University of Mississippi Medical Center (used with permission)

Portrait of Victoria Walker, MD

Welcome to the Family Caregiver Platform Project

Welcome to the Family Caregiver Platform Project! It is an honor to serve as your National Coordinator. The hard work of volunteers across the United States on behalf of family caregivers has an impact that we have been able to track through this project.

In 2016 our volunteers made 29 language submissions in 22 states. Language was officially adopted in eight state party platforms, one state party resolution, and two state bipartisan legislative resolutions. Moreover, both Democrats and Republicans included language in their 2016 National Platforms affirming the importance of family caregiving and home care.

State political parties will continue meeting and discussing their values and priorities in 2017. Following the 2016 presidential election, Americans of all parties are more aware of and engaged with political processes than ever. Caregiving is important to American families of all political philosophies. You can ensure that family caregiving issues are included in political discussions in your community and state.

In 2017, the Democratic parties in Massachusetts and Utah will be updating their party platforms. If you live in either of those states contact your state party to find out how you can give input to their platform process. You can read what we know about their processes on their individual state pages. You may also want to pursue having your State Legislature issue a bipartisan resolution affirming the importance of family caregiving, as was done in South Dakota and Mississippi in 2016.

We encourage everyone to read our suggested caregiver platform planks as a source for ideas to advance in your state. Examples of submission language for state party platforms and legislative resolutions can be found on our downloads page.

— Victoria Walker, MD, Chief Medical and Quality Officer for the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society