The United States took a bold step this week with the release of the 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers. The blueprint, which is sweeping in scope, pinpointed some of the key concerns of these essential workers, who, according to the document “form the backbone of our nation’s system of long-term care.”  

The aim of the strategy is to advance a plan of action leading to recognizing, assisting, including, supporting and engaging family members. The report outlines five goals, which comprise the framework for the strategy:

1. Increase awareness of and outreach to family caregivers

2. Advance partnership and engagement with informal caregivers

3. Strengthen services and supports for family caregivers

4. Ensure financial and workplace security for family caregivers

5. Expand data, research and evidence-based practices to support family caregivers

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act of 2018 defines a family caregiver as “an adult family member or other individual who has a significant relationship with, and who provides a broad range of assistance to, an individual with a chronic or other health condition, disability or functional limitation.”

This group is not a small one. Believed to number around 53 million, it encompasses people of all ages, from youth to grandparents, people with and without disabilities, people providing care from a distance, and people meeting a variety of needs, according to the report. An often-overlooked segment of this community is children, teens and young adults who care for parents, grandparents and siblings.

Their work is not a cheap endeavor. Whites spend an average of 14% of their income on caregiving while Latinos spend 44% and African American family caregivers use 34% of their income on caregiving, according to the report.  

It’s about time that we address this huge but often overlooked part of our population. Just as COVID-19 helped to shed light on the tireless but frequently unseen work of home care caregivers, so too did it reveal how much family caregivers do behind the scenes, without recognition and without pay.

Let’s keep going.

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at [email protected].