October 02, 2020

Udall, Dingell Reintroduce Care Corps Demonstration Act

Bill would build and strengthen America’s caregiving workforce while empowering seniors and people with disabilities to live independently

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) reintroduced the Care Corps Demonstration Act to build and strengthen America’s caregiving workforce and help meet the growing demand for caregivers working with seniors and people living with disabilities. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.).

The nation’s 65-and-older population is expected to almost double in size, from 49 million to 95 million Americans by 2060. By 2030, older Americans are expected to make up nearly 20 percent of the population and over the next ten years the United States is expected to require at least one million more direct care workers.

The Care Corps Demonstration Act will address the country’s growing caregiving needs by placing volunteers in communities to provide vital assistance to help seniors and people with disabilities who need extra support to remain in their homes and live independently. For example, volunteers could help organize transportation and home repairs, deliver groceries, or provide internet assistance. Volunteers will receive health insurance and other benefits throughout the length of their service, along with a robust educational award that can be used to pay future education costs or loans and will encourage volunteers to pursue degrees, certificates, and trainings for health care professions, including caregiving and social services. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the gaps in our health care system, especially for seniors and Americans with disabilities,” said Udall. “But our health care system has been failing to keep pace with the number of people in need of care in New Mexico and across the country even before the current crisis. Each year, over 400,000 New Mexicans provide support and care to their family members or loved ones – care that is often unacknowledged and unpaid. This legislation will help value and honor the critical work of caregivers, while increasing the country’s caregiving capacity to help meet soaring demand. Just as importantly, it will help foster intergenerational relationships and empower those who need extra care to live independently. I’m excited to continue working on bold, innovative solutions like CareCorps to ensure that communities across New Mexico and the nation have access to the care and support they need to live with dignity.” 

“COVID has only exacerbated the long-term care crisis our nation affecting seniors, people with disabilities, and their families,” said Dingell. “I know firsthand the responsibilities families take on to care for love one and the frustrations in getting necessary care. Expanding and strengthening the caregiving and healthcare workforce will meet the demand for services while employing Americans in high-demand fields.” 

“Every day, caregivers in Wisconsin and across the country tend to the needs of our loved ones, many of whom require full-time assistance and care. If we are serious about ensuring that our older adults and loved ones with disabilities receive the highest quality care during this pandemic, we must address the growing shortage of caregivers in our nation,” said Baldwin. “This effort is especially personal to me as I was raised by my maternal grandparents and later served as my grandmother’s primary caretaker as she grew older. I will continue to work to ensure that everyone has access to the care and assistance they need and deserve, so folks can stay healthy and safe during this public health crisis.”

“Every day, over 34 million Americans care for a loved ones who need extra support – a parent, grandparent, friend, or neighbor. Not only is this work challenging in and of itself, but caregivers often juggle a job, school, and other demands as well. It’s past time we increase the resources available for those struggling to balance the many demands this role presents. This innovative legislation will help grow the caregiver workforce and provide much-needed benefits to these workers,” said Van Hollen.

“As the oldest state in the nation, Maine is all too aware of the importance of our nation’s caregivers,” said King. “From allowing our seniors to age in place to helping people with disabilities assert their independence, America’s caregivers are vital parts of our communities. As our nation continues to grow grayer, we must to bolster this workforce – with qualified, caring people who will treat our most vulnerable citizens with the dignity they deserve.” 

“This bill will help address the calamitous caregiving workforce crisis in our country, laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Blumenthal. “There are simply not enough qualified caregivers working with seniors and Americans with disabilities, and the high costs of this care are all too often a barrier for families who need it. The Care Corps Demonstration Act will help build the next generation of qualified health care professionals to fill this workforce gap and put care within reach for more Americans. Placed in communities in need, Care Corps volunteers will lend a helping hand – from grocery deliveries to home repairs – to seniors and people living with disabilities who need support to live independently.”

“As the first AmeriCorps alum in Congress, I know first-hand that there is no venture more rewarding than working to improve the lives of those around us,” said Heinrich.“We need to fill the gaps that will only grow as an aging population creates more demand for care. I am proud to support this legislation to give young adults and others a similar opportunity to address this need, while also helping the thousands of Americans who are already providing essential care for their family members. I will continue to support our nation’s caregivers and work to ensure all Americans, including seniors and individuals with disabilities, have the health care they deserve.” 

“This year, seniors will make up one-fifth of the population of the First State. Over the past few months, we’ve seen how the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted our oldest neighbors and devastated the lives of many people with disabilities, and we need to make sure the resources are available to provide them the high-quality care that they need and deserve,” said Carper. “The Care Corps Demonstration Act can help us do just that by pairing seniors and people living with disabilities with caregivers who are dedicated to providing critical support so that seniors can remain independent and in the comfort of their homes. I’m proud to support legislation that will strengthen this vital workforce – especially in the midst of a global health crisis –  while also empowering seniors in Delaware and across the country.”

The Care Corps Demonstration Act would:

- Authorize grants for local Care Corps programs at $10 million per year over five years;

- Place Corps volunteers in communities where they will provide services that help seniors and individuals with disabilities remain independent;

- Provide volunteers with health insurance and other benefits during their time of service, along with an educational award that can be used to pay education costs or loans;

- Help build the caregiving and health care workforce needed to meet the demand for services; and

- Create opportunities to form intergenerational relationships. 

Udall previously introduced the bill in the 114th Congress with then-U.S. Representative, now New Mexico Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Udall worked with then-Representative Lujan Grisham to secure $5 million during the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations cycle for a grant program based on the Care Corps bill that supports innovative, community based caregiving models. This program, the Community Care Corps Program, has awarded grants to organizations in 23 states, including New Mexico, to pursue potential caregiving models. More information about these projects and the grantees can be found here.

The full text of this legislation can be found here. Access a one-page summary of the legislation here.