Map of FCPP activity in 2016

FCPP 2016 Year in Review

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

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]

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

word cloud for

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

In 2016 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.”

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)