by Ben Scribner MSN, RN
In 2016, the election of our nation’s 45th President captured the world’s political attention. During that political season we operated the bipartisan Family Caregiver Platform Project, which encouraged the inclusion of caregiving as an issue in party platforms. In an effort to recap what we learned and highlight our success, the Family Caregiver Platform Project published an article in The Journal of American Geriatrics Society that you can read at:
Creating A Nationwide Nonpartisan Initiative for Family Caregivers in Political Party Platforms. Ben Scribner MSN, Joanne Lynn MD, Victoria Walker MD, Les Morgan, Anne Montgomery MS, Elizabeth Blair MPP, Davis Baird MSG, Barbara Goldschmidt BA, Naomi Kirschenbaum MPH. First published: 10 March 2017 https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.14814
Here is a recap of our primary findings.
The Family Caregiver Platform Project aims to reach individual volunteers and organizations to raise awareness of family caregivers through the platform process for both the Democratic and Republican Parties. The value of the project is measured not solely in the number of platforms that formally adopt platform language, but also in the dialogue and discussion that advocates and organizations stimulate in a political arena that has historically been silent on caregiver issues. Most state parties update their platforms in Presidential election years, articulating their values and beliefs when national political interest is at its peak.
By September, 2016, many state parties and both the Republican and the Democratic national parties formed platforms. The Family Caregiver Platform Party was widely successful in creating awareness for family caregivers in numerous states across the country.
- As of September, 2016, FCPP volunteers submitted proposals to 29 state parties in 22 states. Family caregiver language was added to eight state party platforms, one state party resolution, two bipartisan legislative resolutions, and one national party platform.
- We identified three specific methods by which state parties accept new proposals for their platform: (1) “Bubble-Up” Process, (2) Direct Submission, or (3) Live Testimony. Eighteen state parties received input via direct submission, four state parties received input via live testimony at formal party hearings, and seven state parties received input via the “bubble-up” process.
- Twenty-three submissions were made for state party platforms, four submissions were made for state party resolutions, and two legislative bipartisan resolutions were developed within state legislatures.
- Most of our proposals (18/29) were submitted directly by volunteers, while (11/29) were submitted as part of testimony or during local meetings. Six of the eleven live testimony or “bubble-up” submissions resulted in the party adding family caregiving language to their party’s resolution or platform, while only five of the seventeen direct submissions resulted in language added to their party’s resolution or platform.
- Roughly one-third (10/29) of the submissions were made to state Republican parties.
- The FCPP project concluded the 2016 political season with submissions to Democratic and Republican national platforms. These submissions were made by The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, unifying a joint effort of 72 non-profit national organizations, including the FCPP. In the final version of their national platform, the Republican party highlighted “homecare as a priority in public policy,” while the Democratic party included a sub-section titled “Supporting Working Families,” specifically calling for various policies to support family caregivers.
State political parties will continue meeting and discussing their values and priorities in 2017. In 2017, the Democratic parties in Massachusetts and Utah will be updating their party platforms. In addition to party internal work, we expect to see a broad range of legislative initiatives across the country that will affect caregivers at the national, state, and local levels.
Our democracy depends on participation by involved and informed citizens. The FCPP continues to support bipartisan efforts to raise awareness of caregiving as a core family value that can unite all Americans.
[map credit: Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness, used with permission]