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National Family Caregiver Support Program
(OAA Title IIIE)

Authorizing Legislation: Section 371 of the Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended

The Purpose of the Program and How it Works

The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), established in 2000, provides grants to States and Territories, based on their share of the population aged 70 and over, to fund a range of supports that assist family and informal caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible.

Families are the major provider of long-term care, but research has shown that caregiving exacts a heavy emotional, physical and financial toll. Many caregivers who work and provide care experience conflicts between these responsibilities. Twenty two percent of caregivers are assisting two individuals, while eight percent are caring for three or more. Almost half of all caregivers are over age 50, making them more vulnerable to a decline in their own health, and one-third describe their own health as fair to poor.

The NFCSP offers a range of services to support family caregivers. Under this program, States shall provide five types of services:

  • information to caregivers about available services,
  • assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services,
  • individual counseling, organization of support groups, and caregiver training,
  • respite care, and
  • supplemental services, on a limited basis

These services work in conjunction with other State and Community-Based Services to provide a coordinated set of supports. Studies have shown that these services can reduce caregiver depression, anxiety, and stress and enable them to provide care longer, thereby avoiding or delaying the need for costly institutional care.

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Eligible Program Participants

While the Aging Network has always been involved with meeting the needs of both care recipients and family caregivers, by creating the National Family Caregiver Support Program, Congress explicitly recognized the important role that family caregivers occupy in our nation’s long-term services and supports system. As of the 2006 Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the following specific populations of family caregivers are eligible to receive services:

  • Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals 60 years of age and older;
  • Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders;
  • Grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 years of age and older providing care to children under the age of 18; and
  • Grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 years of age and older providing care to adults age 18-59 with disabilities.

Each family caregiver presents his or her own unique needs and preferences for the types of programs and services they wish to receive at any given point in time. Further, the programs and services that are available vary from state to state and community to community. Fortunately, a number of national organizations and programs exist to help inform and support program development and innovation. Please see resources and links below for additional information regarding research, technical assistance and support for program development.

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Data Highlight Extensive Services Provided to Caregivers

In FY 2010, the most recent year for which service data is available, over 700,000 caregivers received services through the National Family Caregiver Support Program. These services helped them better manage their caregiving responsibilities while ensuring their loved ones remained in the community for as long as possible. Service highlights include the following:

  • Access Assistance Services provided over 1 million contacts to caregivers helping them locate services from a variety of private and voluntary agencies.
  • Counseling and Training Services were provided over 125,000 caregivers with counseling, peer support groups, and training to help them better cope with the stresses of caregiving.
  • Respite Care Services were provided more than 64,000 caregivers with 6.8 million hours with temporary relief – at home, or in an adult day care or institutional setting – from their caregiving responsibilities.

Data from AoA’s national surveys of caregivers of elderly clients shows:

  • OAA services, including those provided through the National Family Caregiver Support Program, are effective in helping caregivers keep their loved ones at home;
  • Nearly 40 percent of caregivers report they have been providing care for 2-5 years while approximately 29 percent of family caregivers have been providing care for 5-10 years;
  • 77 percent of caregivers of program clients report that services definitely enabled them to provide care longer than otherwise would have been possible;
  • 89 percent of caregivers reported that services helped them to be a better caregiver;
  • Nearly half the caregivers of nursing home eligible care recipients indicated that the care recipient would be unable to remain at home without the support services; and
  • Nearly 12 percent of family caregivers reported they were caring for a grandson or granddaughter.

To obtain more information about the services caregivers received, visit the AGing Integrated Database (AGID), an on-line query system based on AoA-related data files and surveys, and includes population characteristics from the Census Bureau for comparison purposes. The system allows users to produce customized tables in a step-by-step process and output the results in print or spreadsheet form. Information on NFCSP services and recipients is available through this database.

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Funding History

Funding for Family Caregiver Support Services during the past four years is as follows:

FY 2008$153,439,000
FY 2009$154,220,000
FY 2010$154,197,000
FY 2011$153,911,000

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Looking Back: The NFCSP 10th Anniversary Celebration

In 2010, the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) launched a yearlong celebration to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the NFCSP. AoA worked in concert with national caregiver organizations and associations to mark this important achievement. Additionally, AoA encouraged states and communities to recognize the important role family and friends play in caring for friends and loved ones, and to celebrate the impact of caregiver support services, including the NFCSP. Learn more about the NFCSP 10th Anniversary Celebration and to access archived videos featuring the personal stories of family caregivers and other materials associated with the 10th Anniversary Celebration.

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Resources and Useful Links

Eldercare Locator

Are you a family caregiver in need of information or assistance? Are you interested in learning more about the programs and services that may be of assistance to you or your loved one? The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, is the first step to finding resources for older adults in any U.S. community. Just one phone call or Website visit provides an instant connection to resources that enable older persons to live independently in their communities. The service links those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers.

Family Caregiver Alliance - National Center on Caregiving

Established in 2001 as a program of the Family Caregiver Alliance, the National Center on Caregiving (NCC) works to advance the development of high-quality, cost-effective policies and programs for caregivers in every state in the country. Uniting research, public policy and services, the NCC serves as a central source of information on caregiving and long-term care issues for policy makers, service providers, media, funders and family caregivers throughout the country.

National Alliance for Caregiving

Established in 1996, The National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of national organizations focusing on issues of family caregiving. Alliance members include grassroots organizations, professional associations, service organizations, disease-specific organizations, a government agency, and corporations.

The Alliance was created to conduct research, do policy analysis, develop national programs, increase public awareness of family caregiving issues, work to strengthen state and local caregiving coalitions, and represent the US caregiving community internationally. Recognizing that family caregivers provide important societal and financial contributions toward maintaining the well-being of those they care for, the Alliance's mission is to be the objective national resource on family caregiving with the goal of improving the quality of life for families and care recipients.

The National Family Caregivers Association

The National Family Caregivers Association educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 50 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability or the frailties of old age. NFCA reaches across the boundaries of diagnoses, relationships and life stages to help transform family caregivers' lives by removing barriers to health and well being.

Generations United

Generations United is the national membership organization dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth, and older people through intergenerational strategies, programs, and public policies. Generations United represents more than 100 national, state, and local organizations representing more than 70 million Americans. With its emphasis on public policy, advocacy and programming, Generations United has served as a resource for policymakers and the public on the economic, social, and personal imperatives of intergenerational cooperation.

The Brookdale Foundation Group – Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP)

Established in 1996 in response to a growing understanding of the need for enhanced services and supports for grandparents raising grandchildren, The Brookdale Foundation Group established the Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP) to encourage and promote the creation or expansion of services for grandparents and other relatives who have taken on the responsibility of surrogate parenting due to the absence of the parents. Currently RAPP provides supportive services, primarily to relative caregivers caring for children outside the foster care system, through an extensive network of support groups across the country.

eXtension

This website was created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Cooperative Extension System. Here, caregivers and advocates can access a wide range of information and materials designed to help them learn about and provide supportive services to family and relative caregivers. Topics include disaster preparedness, military families, grandparents raising grandchildren, housing, and nutrition.

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